Cycle 7 PI science observations have been continuing, although with some significant interruption due to snowstorms at the end of May and in mid-June. Combined with pandemic conditions affecting maximum staffing levels at the site, this led to a delay in reaching the 12-m Array C43-7 configuration (completed on 12 July). Unfortunately, the delay has an impact on the configuration schedule for the remainder of Cycle 7.
Registrations are open for "The ALMA 2030 Vision: A next generation of front-end receivers" workshop. Abstracts can be submitted here until July 16, 2021. Potential participants can inquire with the organization about late submission of abstracts, via ALMA_FED_2021@eso.org. This workshop will be held online, in the week of September 27-30, 2021.
A visibility amplitude calibration error that affects fields containing strong line emission has been discovered in ALMA interferometer observations up to and including Cycle 7. This calibration scaling error originates in the combined effect of correlator spectral normalization and Tsys calibration and affects both 12-m Array and Atacama Compact Array observations. The effect of this amplitude scaling error is most notable for observations of strong, relatively narrow spectral lines, typically related to Galactic ISM and Galactic star formation (e.g., molecular lines, masers, etc.).
With the release of the telescope schedule, the preparation of Service Mode (SM) observations (Phase 2) starts. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 108 observations is 12 August 2021.
The 108th Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) met online during May and June 2021. Based on the committee's recommendations to the ESO Director General, a total of 2419 (8-hour equivalent) nights of Designated Visitor Mode and Service Mode observations were allocated on the VLT/VLTI, VISTA, VST, the 3.6-metre and NTT, and APEX telescopes. The submission deadline for Phase 2 Service Mode observations is Thursday 12 August, 2021; see the separate announcement for further details.
Members of ESO's community occasionally propose projects to a national or international funding agency, where an ESO site or facility is the intended host. Some of the telescopes at ESO sites, particularly on Cerro La Silla, are successful examples of this approach. Some visiting instruments for existing telescopes and enhancements to facility instruments have also been known to follow this approach. ESO kindly requests that prospective applicants contact the ESO Director for Science at least 3 months before submission to the funding source. Implementation cannot be guaranteed if funding for such projects is obtained without a green light from ESO.
The AMBRE collaboration between the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (OCA, Nice) and ESO has the goal to analyse the wealth of stellar spectroscopic data in the ESO science archive using the MATISSE parametrisation algorithm to derive stellar atmospheric parameters (Recio-Blanco et al., 2006, Worley et al. 2012, de Laverny et al. 2012, De Pascale et al. 2014. This data release provides stellar radial velocity, effective temperature, surface gravity, mean metallicity and enrichment in alpha-elements for about 4480 distinct stellar objects observed between October 2003 and October 2010 using HARPS (378 nm – 691 nm). More information can be found in the related release documentation.
ESO observatories operated under challenging conditions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having to reduce and even pause scientific observations for a few months. Nonetheless, 2020 was still a very productive year with regard to the number of papers that were published using data from ESO telescopes, mostly obtained in previous years. A recently published report from the ESO library shows that 2020 represents the fourth consecutive year that over 1000 scientific studies using ESO data were published. The majority of these publications used data from ESO’s flagship facility, the Very Large Telescope (VLT), and the VLT Interferometer (VLTI).
Preparations are being put in place to resume construction work on ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) at Cerro Armazones in Chile, following disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the closure of the site in mid-2020. As work on manufacturing and design elements of the ELT in Europe progressed steadily, the evolution of this complex and ambitious project, set to revolutionise modern astronomy, has been closely monitored over the past year. ESO’s ELT is now expected to deliver the first scientific observations in September 2027, about half a year after an initial “telescope technical first light”.
ESO is pleased to announce the conference Atmospheres, Atmospheres! Do I look like I care about atmospheres? that will take place online from 23 to 27 August 2021. This conference will bring together the community working theoretically and observationally on understanding exoplanet atmospheres by transmission and emission spectroscopy, with an emphasis on using ground-based facilities. It aims also to bring together those working on the atmospheres of close-in exoplanets and those studying the atmospheres of giant planets in our Solar System, in order to compare methodologies and see where synergies exist or could be made.
This conference will bring together the community working theoretically and observationally on understanding exoplanet atmospheres by transmission and emission spectroscopy, with an emphasis on using ground-based facilities. It aims also to bring together those working on the atmospheres of close-in exoplanets and those studying the atmospheres of giant planets in our Solar System, in order to compare methodologies and see where synergies exist or could be made. The conference has as further goal to prepare the next generation of astronomers to embark on this exciting and essential area of astrophysics, which is technically very challenging.
The forthcoming generation of Extremely Large Telescope (ELTs) will reach unprecedented spectroscopic sensitivity coupled with high angular resolution in the near infrared. This workshop will bring together the international astronomical community to explore the transformational science that the spectroscopic instrument suites of the ELTs (GMT, TMT and ELT) will achieve. High resolution simulations have played a key role in the development of the instrument science cases providing a quantifiable means to determine feasibility and to predict the scientific outcomes that can be achieved. The meeting will bring together theoreticians, modelers and observers, with interests ranging from exoplanets to cosmology, and it will set the stage for the community to plan and coordinate ELT science programmes and pre-cursor observations, making use of quantitative estimates of what the ELTs can achieve.
The vision for ALMA's future development is described in the ALMA Development Roadmap. In order to implement this vision a series of three workshops has been envisioned, in conjunction with corresponding working groups defining the appropriate scientific and technical specifications. Following the first two workshops held in 2020 to discuss potential correlator and digitizer upgrades that will realize the ALMA 2030 vision, we plan to complete the workshop trilogy with an ALMA Front-End Development Workshop, entitled "The ALMA 2030 Vision: A next generation of front-end receivers". This workshop will be held online, in the week of 27-30 September 2021.