From ESO: “MUSE: New Free Film about ESO’s Cosmic Time Machine”

ESO 50 Large

European Southern Observatory

11 May 2017
Roland Bacon
Lyon Centre for Astrophysics Research (CRAL)
Tel: +33 478 86 85 59
Cell: +33 608 09 14 27

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head of ESO ePOD
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cell: +49 173 3872 621


CNRS Images, in partnership with ESO, has produced a documentary about MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer. Directed by Christophe Gombert and Claude Delhaye, MUSE, The Cosmic Time Machine takes a detailed look at one of the latest — and in fact, the biggest — second-generation instruments installed on Yepun (UT4), the fourth Unit Telescope of ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The 35-minute documentary explores the inspiration and the story behind MUSE, why it was needed, and how it came into life over a nine year development phase. It highlights the international European cooperation necessary to realise the project, as well as the participation of many of the hundreds of researchers, technicians and engineers involved. The innovative technology of MUSE and the front-line science performed with it are also discussed, braided with a gripping storyline of the delicate installation process leading up to the moment of first light of the instrument.

MUSE, a novel state-of-the-art integral field spectrograph, is one of the most ambitious astronomical projects of our time. It saw first light in January 2014 (eso1407) and uses 24 3D spectrographs, obtaining spectra over wide areas of the sky and at a large range of wavelengths, from blue to infrared. Each of the 24 data “cubes” produced by MUSE in one observation is so rich in information that researchers need many months to fully analyse its contents and publish the results.

With instruments like MUSE, employing cutting-edge technology, ESO remains at the forefront of astronomical research. Since MUSE’s conception, astronomers have been able to study the Universe in more detail than ever before. In fact, there is no instrument currently available that is better suited to observing the faintest galaxies in the very distant Universe, and it will undoubtedly produce results of outstanding quality in the next decades.

The film project was led by Roland Bacon, Principal Investigator of the MUSE project, and premiered in France on 9 March 2017 at the Musée des Confluences. Now, the movie is released under a Creative Commons NoDerivatives license through ESO’s video archive. The MUSE film can be found here.


MUSE, The Cosmic Time Machine
The MUSE blog
MUSE instrument page
Images made with MUSE
Images of the MUSE instrument

See the full article here .

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ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

ESO LaSilla
ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO Vista Telescope
ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

ESO VLT Survey telescope
VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ALMA Array
ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres

ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m

APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert