ESO Science Newsletter March 2017
01 Mar 2017
VISTA JHKs image of Orion A molecular cloud

This newsletter is a summary of recent ESO Science Announcement items. Follow the links or visit ESO Science Announcements to read more.

Science Announcements

Call for Proposals for Period 100

01 Mar 2017:

The Call for Proposals for observations at ESO telescopes in Period 100 (1 October 2017 – 31 March 2018) has been released. Please consult the Call for Proposals document for the main news items and policies related to applying for time on ESO telescopes. All technical information about the offered instruments and facilities is contained on ESO webpages that are linked from the Call.
The deadline for proposals is 12:00 CEST 30 March 2017.

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Second Cycle of ESO Public Surveys at VISTA begins in Period 99

28 Feb 2017:

As the first generation of ESO Public Surveys was completing their observations on the VLT Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), ESO issued a Call for new VISTA Public Surveys. The extensive process of the evaluation of proposals and preparation of Survey Management Plans for the second cycle of VISTA Public surveys has now been almost completed. Seven new projects will start operations in P99 (April – September 2017) covering a wide range of scientific topics.

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Call for Proposals for ESO Workshops 2018

28 Feb 2017:

Science workshops are an essential component of ESO's programmes and represent a unique opportunity to promote and foster ideas and collaborations within the scientific community. Every year, through the Directorate for Science, ESO provides support and funding to organise two workshops in Santiago and four in Garching, as well as co-funding some external workshops (see ESO Workshops calendar). A new Call has been issued inviting community astronomers to team up with ESO staff and fellows in Chile and/or in Germany to submit proposals for ESO workshops to be held in 2018.

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Release of SPHERE Pipeline

27 Feb 2017:

Version 0.22.0 of the SPHERE pipeline has been released and can be downloaded from the VLT Instrument Pipelines page. This is the first version of the SPHERE pipeline that includes all necessary recipes as well as fully functional Reflex workflows to reduce SPHERE data from all standard modes of the instrument.

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ESO Publication Statistics 2016

27 Feb 2017:

Statistics on refereed publications in 2016 that make use of data from ESO telescopes have just been published by the ESO library. The statistics are calculated using the ESO Telescope Bibliography (telbib), a database of refereed publications that use ESO data. In January 2017, the total number of publications in telbib resulting from the La Silla Paranal Observatory since 1996, passed 13 000. The annual summary of publication statistics, with breakdown by telescopes and instruments and comparison with other observatories, is available as Basic ESO Publication Statistics.

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Science with ALMA: Discoveries, Future Priorities and User Support

26 Feb 2017:

Special Session SS20 at EWASS, Prague, 26 – 30 June 2017

The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) Special Session No. 20, held on the first day (26 June) of the conference, will be devoted to the three particular modes of observing with ALMA that demonstrate the unique capabilities of the facility: High-Frequency Observations (specifically in Bands 8, 9 and 10); High-Angular-Resolution Observations with baslines up to 16 km; Solar Observations. Further details on the SS20 site.

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ALMA Cycle 4 Science Operations

25 Feb 2017:

ALMA Cycle 4 (1 Oct 2016 – 30 Sept 2017) continues and PI observations will resume on 1 March 2017 after the "austral winter" engineering period through February. More information on the ALMA Status page.


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New Weather Restrictions for La Silla ESO Telescopes

24 Feb 2017:

Amended restrictions on humidity, wind and dew point applicable to opening and closing of the domes of the ESO 3.6-metre and the New Technology Telescope (NTT) have been recently released. Both telescopes wil be closed when humidy reaches 80% and can only be opened when it is below 70% for 30 minutes. For the ESO 3.6-metre, the new wind speed restriction will be 18 ms-1. The full listing of the weather restrictions for La Silla telescopes is available here (PDF). These stricter limits lead to a very small increase in weather downtime as result of increased telescope and instrument safety.

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2017 VLTI Community Days

07 Feb 2017:

VLTI Community Days: ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 8–10 March 2017
VLTI Winter School: ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 6–8 March 2017

The Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) is currently undergoing deployment of the second generation instruments and infrastructure upgrades, and the K-band multi-beam combiner instrument GRAVITY is being commissioned. The VLTI Community Days are a unique opportunity to get together and reflect on the present and plan for the future.

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Data Release 4 of Images and Source Lists from VVV

06 Feb 2017:

The VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) survey fourth data release (DR4) provides VISTA tile images and source lists in ZYJHKs filters, processed by the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU), for a total sky coverage of 560 square degrees. DR4 contains science data products from observations in the period 1 October 2013 – 15 October 2015, and also science data products from observations in September 2010 to September 2013 not included in the previous release.

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Additional Scope for ALMA Long Baseline Science Verification Targets

06 Feb 2017:

The ALMA Long Baseline Campaign, taking place from 1 September to 30 November 2014, has been proceeding well. As a result, the observatory has decided to expand the scope of the capabilities to be demonstrated with two Science Verification (SV) targets with Band 7: the pre-main sequence star HL Tau and the gravitational lens SDP 81. Information on ALMA SV can be found here.

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ESSENCE FORS1 Advanced Data Products Available Via Phase 3

06 Feb 2017:

The project "Equation of State: SupErNovae trace Cosmic Expansion" (ESSENCE) aimed to collect ~200 Type Ia SNe over the redshift range 0.15 to 0.75 to study the equation of state of Dark Energy. Spectra were taken for this project with FORS1 in a Large Programme (ID 170.A-0519) and published by Matheson et al. 2005. Advanced data products are now available for these spectra via the query form of the Science Archive.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • Stellar Populations in Stellar Clusters and Dwarf Galaxies – New Astronomical and Astrophysical Challenges
    Intra-Chile Workshop, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 2–3 March 2017

    Globular clusters are no longer a proxy for a single stellar population. High-precision photometric and spectroscopic observations have been revealing multiple generations in young and old massive clusters in the Milky Way and beyond. The workshop will bring together both observers and theoreticians trying to solve the question of how star clusters form and evolve, and the connection with their host galaxy. The workshop is open to all astronomers and students, especially those in Chilean institutes. More details here.

  • Star Formation from Cores to Clusters
    ESO Workshop, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 6–9 March 2017

    This Workshop aims to bring together astronomers towards answering the question: "What constitutes a prototypical low-mass star forming region from core to cluster scales?". This refers primarily to the formation of low-mass stars, but also involves higher-mass stars, starless cores, brown dwarfs, planet formation and related topics. The workshop will feature observational and theoretical/simulation studies towards a comprehensive understanding of low-mass star forming regions. Full details on the workshop webpage.

  • The Impact of Binaries on Stellar Evolution (ImBaSE2017)
    ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 3–7 July 2017

    Stars are mostly found in binary and multiple systems: at least 50% of all solar-like stars have companions and that fraction approaches 100% for the most massive stars. A large fraction of these systems will interact in some way and alter the structure and evolution of the components, leading to the production of exotic objects. This workshop will examine in detail the impact of binaries on stellar evolution from observational and theoretical viewpoints. Full details on the ImBaSE2017 webpage. The closing date for abstracts is 31 March 2017.

  • Early Stages of Galaxy Cluster Formation (GCF2017)
    Mergers, Proto-clusters, and Star Formation in Overdense Environments
    ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 17 – 21 July 2017

    Proto-clusters, high redshift galaxy clusters, and merging clusters represent the initial stages in the formation of largest gravitationally-bound structures in the Universe. (Proto-)cluster assembly via mergers and accretion has a decisive impact on the subsequent cluster evolution, and is thus an important process to understand. The aim of GCF2017 is to discuss cluster formation over the last ten billion years, from its beginnings to the present day. This is truly a multi-wavelength topic and participants with expertise across the electromagnetic spectrum are encouraged. Further details can be found on the workshop webpage or by email. The closing date for abstract submission is 31 March 2017.

  • The Galaxy Ecosystem. Flow of Baryons Through Galaxies
    ESO and Excellence Cluster Universe Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching Germany, 24–28 July 2017

    The fate of a galaxy is governed by an intricate ballet of gas flows: flow of cool gas into the system, conversion of baryons into stars and ejection of gas enriched with heavy elements. Determining what rules and mutually relates these three aspects still remains a critical and very complex problem in cosmology. The conference aims at addressing this core topic from many observational and theoretical viewpoints. Full details on the workshop webpage; the abstract deadline is 15 March 2017.

  • Cosmology and Fundamental Physics with Current and Future ESO Facilities
    3rd Azores School on Observational Cosmology; 5th Azores International Advanced School in Space Sciences; Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal, 27 August – 2 September 2017

    A range of planned ground- and space-based facilities will gather an unprecedented amount of data in observational astrophysics and cosmology, allowing open problems to be tackled, some of which require new physics. The aim of the school is to prepare the next generation of astrophysicists for this exciting quest, in the context of current and forthcoming ESO facilities, in particular the ELT. The School will feature a range of lectures and hands-on tutorials. More information and application conditions on the School website or by email. Attendance is limited to 40 students, with deadline 31 March 2017.