ESO Science Newsletter March 2018
01 Mar 2018
Tarantula Nebula image using HAWK-I and the Adaptive Optics Facililty

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

Science announcements

Workshop: A Revolution in Stellar Physics with Gaia and Large Surveys

21 Apr 2018:

Warsaw University Library, Warsaw, Poland, 3–7 September 2018

The era of Gaia-enabled revolutions in almost all areas of astrophysics has started. In particular, and crucially, Gaia's exquisite astrometry and photometry combined with data from other large stellar surveys (ground- and space-based) will allow major progress in our understanding of stellar physics. The workshop will focus on the advances in our understanding of stellar physical processes made possible by combining the astrometry and photometry of Gaia with data from other large photometric, spectroscopic, and asteroseismic stellar surveys. Asteroseismology, in particular, has been essential to probe the interiors of stars. These combined data will permit detailed studies of stellar physics to a level that is unprecedented in the history of stellar astrophysics. More details are available on the workshop page or by email. The registration and abstract submission deadline has recently been extended to 5 May 2018.

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Call for Proposals for Period 102

01 Mar 2018:

The Call for Proposals for observations at ESO telescopes in Period 102 (1 October 2018 – 31 March 2019) has been released. Please consult the Period 102 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 proposal submission deadline is 12:00 CEST 28 March 2018.

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Large Programmes Offered Once per Year from P104

28 Feb 2018:

Starting from Period 104, Large Programmes will only be offered in even periods, i.e., periods with a proposal submission deadline in March or April. ESO encourages the community to submit Large Programmes that do not extend over a number of periods larger than that required scientifically. From Period 104 onwards, ESO will strive to execute Large Programmes over shorter periods of time (aiming at two semesters by default) while maintaining the ceiling set by Council of the observing time allocated to Large Programmes (i.e., 30% of the available time on the VLT/VLTI). These measures follow the recommendations of ESO's Time Allocation Working Group, reviewed by the Scientific Technical Committee and Users Committee, and aim to increase the scientific impact of ESO's telescopes.

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Call for Proposals for ESO Workshops 2019

27 Feb 2018:

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 2019. Note that ESO has recently implemented a Code of Conduct for Workshops and Conferences, which applies to all meetings held at ESO premises. ESO-funded workshops that are held outside ESO premises are required to adopt their own codes of conduct.

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Users Committee Meeting 2018

25 Feb 2018:

The Users Committee (UC) represents ESO's astronomical community at large and acts as an advisory body to the ESO Director General on matters related to the performance, scientific access, operation and user interfaces to the La Silla Paranal Observatory and ALMA. The annual meeting of the UC is scheduled at ESO Headquarters on 26-27 April 2018. During the UC meeting updates from ESO and feedback from the user community are exchanged and openly discussed. Each year, the UC meeting has one session dedicated to a special topic – in 2018 the special topic is the future of ALMA User Support.

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22 Feb 2018:

First Segments of ELT's Primary Mirror Successfully Cast: The first six hexagonal segments for the primary mirror of ESO's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) have been successfully cast by SCHOTT (Germany) at their facility in Mainz. These segments will form parts of the ELT's 39-metre primary mirror, which will have 798 segments in total. After casting, the mirror segment blanks will go through a slow cooling and heat treatment sequence and will then be ground to the right shape and polished to a precision of 15 nm across the entire optical surface. The shaping and polishing will be performed by Safran Reosc (France), which will also be responsible for further testing.

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ESO Publication Statistics 2017

21 Feb 2018:

Statistics on refereed publications in 2017 that make use of data from ESO telescopes have been published by the ESO library. The statistics are calculated using the ESO Telescope Bibliography (telbib), a database of refereed publications resulting from ESO data. An impressive total of 1085 papers were published in 2017. MUSE and X-SHOOTER papers both took a big leap forward, along with VIMOS, VISIR and the VST. On La Silla, HARPS continues to be outstanding. The annual summary of publication statistics, with breakdown by telescopes and instruments and a comparison with other observatories, is available as Basic ESO Publication Statistics (DOI 10.18727/docs/1).

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ESO's Training Programmes: Studentships

20 Feb 2018:

ESO offers a wide range of opportunity to young astronomers to help develop their careers, including including summer and winter astronomy camps for high school students, internships for masters students, PhD studentships and research fellowships. The Director General tells us more about each of these schemes in the latest entry of the ESO Blog.

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ALMA Programme Scientist

01 Feb 2018:

The position for European ALMA Programme Scientist is open for applications. The Programme Scientist will serve as the primary contact between the ALMA Observatory, the European ALMA Support Centre and the European astronomical community with respect to the scientific capabilities, mission and exploitation of the ALMA facility. The successful candidate will be responsible for ensuring that the European share of the observatory and its future development will enable ALMA to meet scientific requirements. Additionally the Programme Scientist will monitor the scientific performance of ALMA operations and its ability to carry out forefront science.  

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Workshop: Take a Closer Look – The Innermost Region of Protoplanetary Discs and its Connection to the Origin of Planets

10 Nov 2017:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 15–19 October 2018

Recent discoveries of close-in planets around main sequence and even pre-main sequence stars raise a number of questions about the formation of planetary systems. Their formation and migration history must be directly linked to the conditions within the inner regions of their progenitor protoplanetary discs. These sites also play a key role in star-disc interactions. Studies probing this important region require the use of innovative techniques and a wide range of instruments.

This workshop will address a number of topics related to the inner disc, including the morphology and composition of the innermost disc regions, star-disc interaction, and theories that describe the evolution of the innermost disc regions and the formation of close-in planets.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • Diversis mundi: The Solar System in an Exoplanetary context
    ESO, Santiago, Chile, March 5–9, 2018

    This workshop aims to bring together the solar system and exoplanet scientific communities to explore how their expertise and recent discoveries can complement each other. The discovery of exoplanetary systems with a large variety of architectures can teach us about the formation and history of our own solar system, and the deep understanding of our own environment can help us towards our search for life traces outside of the solar system. Various aspects will be covered including, the formation and architecture of planetary systems, small components of planetary systems, or planetary atmospheres and biomarkers.
  • Imaging of Stellar Surfaces
    ESO HQ, Garching, Germany, March 5–9, 2018

    There have been tremendous recent advances in observational techniques enabling resolution of the surfaces of stars other than the Sun. Interferometric instruments have recently succeeded in resolving stellar surfaces. The workshop aims to bring together observers from different techniques and wavelengths, and theoreticians working on stellar atmospheres and stellar structure. This will be a focussed workshop with ample time for discussions on recent images of stellar surfaces and atmospheres, observational strategies and the underlying physical processes.
  • Science with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment
    Schloss Ringberg, Tegernsee, Germany, March 11–14, 2018

    The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) 12-metre submillimetre telescope has been in operation for more than 12 years and has contributed to a wide variety of submillimetre astronomy science areas, from the discoveries of new molecules to deep imaging of the submillimetre sky. The telescope is currently undergoing a major upgrade to ensure reliable operations until at least 2022. In addition, a new suite of instruments is being commissioned. The conference venue at Ringberg Castle provides a unique setting for in-depth discussions on new scientific results with APEX, synergies with other observatories, and the exploitation of upcoming new APEX capabilities.
  • La Silla Paranal Users Workshop
    ESO HQ, Garching, Germany, March 12–14, 2018

    ESO's ground-based observatories located in Chile serve a very diverse astronomical community. The La Silla Paranal Users workshop provides users with all the necessary knowledge to make the most out of ESO data and thereby provide strengthen your research. This workshop will provide an introduction to the various tools and services ESO provides, and help users to improve the technical aspects of their proposals as well as to reduce the data obtained with instruments in La Silla and Paranal.
  • Submillimetre Single-Dish Data Reduction and Array Combination Techniques
    ESO HQ, Garching, Germany, March 15–16, 2018

    Single dish submm facilities provide an essential complement to ALMA interferometry data, but require a set of special observing techniques and data reduction software. Participants in this ESO-Radionet workshop will be trained in the analysis of APEX data and in combining single-dish and array data through different techniques, such as feathering and joint deconvolution. The workshop will cover both line and continuum data, consisting of introductory lectures followed by hands-on tutorial sessions.