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  • richardmitnick 9:26 am on May 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT, ESO Signs Largest Ever Ground-based Astronomy Contract for E-ELT Dome and Telescope Structure   

    From ESO: “ESO Signs Largest Ever Ground-based Astronomy Contract for E-ELT Dome and Telescope Structure” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    25 May 2016
    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Alessandra Onorati
    Media Contact for the ACe Consortium
    Email: A.Onorati@Astaldi.com

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile
    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile

    At a ceremony in Garching bei München, Germany on 25 May 2016, ESO signed the contract with the ACe Consortium, consisting of Astaldi, Cimolai and the nominated sub-contractor EIE Group, for the construction of the dome and telescope structure of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This is the largest contract ever awarded by ESO and also the largest contract ever in ground-based astronomy. This occasion saw the unveiling of the construction design of the E-ELT. Construction of the dome and telescope structure will now commence.

    The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), with a main mirror 39 metres in diameter, will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world: truly the world’s biggest eye on the sky. It will be constructed in northern Chile, on a site that has already been prepared.

    The contract to build the telescope’s dome and structure was signed by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, the Chairman of Astaldi, Paolo Astaldi, and the President of Cimolai, Luigi Cimolai. ESO was delighted to welcome Italy’s Minister of Education, Universities and Research, H.E. Stefania Giannini, to the ceremony, which was also attended by the Italian Consul General in Munich, Renato Cianfarani, the ESO Council President, Patrick Roche, and the Italian ESO Council Delegates, Nicolò D’Amico (who is also President of INAF) and Matteo Pardo, Scientific Attaché at the Italian Embassy in Berlin. The President of EIE, Gianpietro Marchiori, and other guests and representatives of the consortium were also present.

    The contract covers the design, manufacture, transport, construction, on-site assembly and verification of the dome and telescope structure. With an approximate value of 400 million euros, it is the largest contract ever awarded by ESO and the largest contract ever in ground-based astronomy.

    The E-ELT dome and telescope structure will take telescope engineering into new territory. The contract includes not only the enormous 85-metre-diameter rotating dome, with a total mass of around 5000 tonnes, but also the telescope mounting and tube structure, with a total moving mass of more than 3000 tonnes. Both of these structures are by far the largest ever built for an optical/infrared telescope and dwarf all existing ones. The dome is almost 80 metres high and its footprint is comparable in area to a football pitch.

    The E-ELT is being built on Cerro Armazones, a 3000-metre peak about 20 kilometres from ESO’s Paranal Observatory. The access road and leveling of the summit have already been completed and work on the dome is expected to start on site in 2017.

    Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General said: “The E-ELT will produce discoveries that we simply cannot imagine today, and it will inspire people around the world to think about science, technology and our place in the Universe. Today’s signature is a key step towards delivering the E-ELT in 2024.”

    Paolo Astaldi, Chairman of Astaldi added: “This project is truly visionary, both in what it represents for the field of astronomy and for construction and engineering. Astaldi and our project partners, Cimolai and EIE Group, are extremely proud to have been selected by ESO through their call for tender to help make their vision a reality. Astaldi is renowned for delivering its best-in-class technical skills, quality construction and strong execution, and we will put the full force of our core strengths behind this project. It is with great excitement that I sign a contract of such astronomical ambition.”

    Luigi Cimolai, President of Cimolai, said: “We are honoured and grateful that our company has been given the opportunity to take part in this technically advanced astronomical challenge. The European Extremely Large Telescope will demand a high degree of quality in engineering and construction and I believe this will definitely contribute to further increase our ability to develop projects of greater and greater complexity.”

    Many other aspects of the construction of the E-ELT are also moving forward rapidly. ESO has already signed agreements for the construction of the first-light instruments MICADO, HARMONI and METIS, as well as the MAORY adaptive optics system for the E-ELT. Contracts for the telescope’s huge secondary mirror will be signed in the near future.

    The light-collecting area of the E-ELT will be bigger than all existing optical research telescopes combined and its adaptive optics system will provide images about 15 times sharper than those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope at the same wavelength. It offers numerous possibilities for technology and engineering spin-offs, technology transfer and technology contracting. The new contract demonstrates that the E-ELT has the potential to be a powerhouse for economic development, offering contractors in ESO’s Member States an opportunity to lead major projects at an international level.

    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
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on April 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , E-ELT HIRES, E-ELT MOSAIC, ESO E-ELT, STFC   

    From STFC via ESO: “The world’s biggest telescope gets the world’s best instrumentation” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    STFC bloc

    23 March 2016
    STFC Media Manager
    Jake Gilmore
    Tel: 07970994586

    Scientists and engineers from the UK astronomy research community are celebrating after contracts have been signed to commence mapping out the detailed specifications of two new instruments that will be key to the success of what will be the World’s largest visible and infrared telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

    The two new instruments, named MOSAIC (the Multi-Object Spectrograph) and HIRES (the High Resolution Spectrograph), will be world-leading workhorse instruments for the European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s telescope and will both be reliant on substantial involvement from UK science and engineering teams.

    ESO E-ELT MOSAIC
    ESO E-ELT MOSAIC

    ESO E-ELT HIRES
    ESO E-ELT HIRES

    Professor Colin Cunningham, from STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) is leader of the UK E-ELT Project Office and said of the announcement “The start of these conceptual designs is an important step toward furnishing the E-ELT with the full range of capabilities required for headline science in the next decade. UK institutes are playing leading roles in both instruments, ensuring that UK scientists will have access to the first exciting results when they become operational.”

    The University of Cambridge is providing the UK science lead on HIRES and the STFC’s UK ATC in Edinburgh will lead the infrared subsystem (with contributions from The University of Cambridge and institutes from 5 other countries). Durham University is providing adaptive optics and fiber expertise. Heriot Watt University is developing laser comb technology that has the potential to make a major contribution to the critical calibration function.

    Durham University is providing a co-project lead and adaptive optics expertise as well as technical lead on the instrument core structure for the MOSAIC instrument. The STFC’s UK ATC is providing the key roles of project scientist and lead systems engineer as well as leading the near infrared spectrograph and project management of the instrument core structure. Oxford University and STFC’s RAL Space are leading the positioning system and providing the instrument scientist.

    Professor Roberto Maiolino, from the University of Cambridge, is the HIRES project scientist and said “HIRES will be an extraordinary machine, which will enable scientists to pursue a multitude of goals unachievable by current instrumentation, such as detecting signatures of life in other solar systems and revealing the fingerprints of the first generation of stars in the primordial Universe.”

    Dr Chris Evans based at STFC’s UKATC is the MOSAIC Project Scientist and said “After significant effort in assembling the case from the research community for a multi-object spectrograph on the E-ELT, I’m tremendously excited to start the advanced design of MOSAIC. Building on scientific discoveries expected from the James Webb Space Telescope in the coming years, MOSAIC will give us our first detailed insights into the properties of galaxies just emerging from the cosmic dawn after the Big Bang.”

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    The E-ELT telescope, once it is operational in 2024, will enable astronomers to see more distant objects than previously possible, allowing them to understand younger structures in our night sky than ever before — helping improve our understanding of the Universe, the effects of dark matter and energy, and planets outside of our solar system.

    Prof Simon Morris, Head of the Department of Physics at Durham University and UK co-project lead on MOSAIC, said “This latest step on the way to delivering the world’s largest optical telescope means we are on schedule to start delivering major breakthroughs in astronomy in the mid 2020s’. It has been 10 years since we first started thinking about this project, and so it is very exciting that we are able to start on the final design. Apart from providing answers to many current questions, the chance is very high for serendipitous, unexpected new insights by using these instruments.”

    The MOSAIC instrument will allow astronomers to probe some of the deepest mysteries of the Universe: when did the first galaxies form and how did they aggregate into large structures like the Milky Way; how are ordinary matter and dark matter distributed throughout the Universe; and if there are planets around stars in galaxies beyond the Milky Way?

    Gavin Dalton, Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University believes that “The MOSAIC instrument, once operational, will enable researchers from around the globe to better understand some of the big questions in astronomy, including telling us more about the role of dark matter. By enabling simultaneous observations of large numbers of faint stars and galaxies, MOSAIC will allow us to explore in unprecedented detail the full range of environments of the earliest objects in the Universe.”

    HIRES will be used for extremely detailed and accurate studies of individual objects and it will allow astronomers to: study the atmospheres of planets around other stars in a search for the signatures of life; probe the evolution of galaxies; identify the signature of the very first generation of stars in the primordial Universe; and determine whether some of the fundamental constants of physics, which regulate most physical processes in the Universe, actually change with time.

    The two consortia are among the largest ever to collaborate in the production of astronomical instruments, illustrating the multinational efforts involved in making these spectrographs.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    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
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 3:18 pm on December 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Stars are the nuclear furnaces of the Universe” 


    European Southern Observatory

    12.27.15
    No Writer Credit

    1
    Stars are the nuclear furnaces of the Universe in which chemical elements, including the building blocks of life, are synthesised and recycled: without stars there would be no life. Accordingly,stellar astrophysics has long been a core activity for astronomers. But much remains to be understood. With higher angular resolution and greater sensitivity astronomers will be able to observe the faintest, least massive stars,allowing us to close the current huge gap in our knowledge concerning star and planet formation. Nucleocosmochronometry — the radiocarbon-14 method as applied to stars — will become possible for stars right across the Milky Way, allowing us to study galactic prehistory by dating the very first stars. And some of the brightest stellar phenomena, including the violent deaths of stars in supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, will be traced out to very large distances, offering a direct map of the star formation history of the entire Universe.

    The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will be able to answer some of the most prominent open questions: What are the details of star formation, and how does this process connect with the formation of planets? When did the first stars form? What triggers the most energetic events that we know of in the Universe, the deaths of stars in gamma-ray bursts?

    2
    The term island universes was introduced in 1755 by Immanuel Kant, and used at the beginning of the 20th century to define spiral nebulae as independent galaxies outside the Milky Way. Trying to understand galaxy formation and evolution has become one of the most active fields of astronomical research over the last few decades, as large telescopes have reached out beyond the Milky Way.Yet, even nearby giant galaxies have remained diffuse nebulae that cannot be resolved into individual stars. The unique angular resolution of the E-ELT will revolutionise this field by allowing us to observe individual stars in galaxies out to distances of tens of millions of light-years. Even at greater distances, we will be able to make the kind of observations of the structure of galaxies and the motions of their constituent stars that previously have only been possible in the nearby Universe: by taking advantage of the finite speed of light, we can peer back in time to see how and when galaxies were assembled.

    The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will be able to answer some of the most prominent open questions: What stars are galaxies made of? How many generations of stars do galaxies host and when did they form? What is the star formation history of the Universe? When and how did galaxies as we see them today form? How did galaxies evolve through time?

    3
    The discovery that the expansion of the Universe has recently begun to accelerate, presumably driven by some form of dark energy, was arguably one of the most important as well as mysterious scientific break-throughs of the past decade.The E-ELT will help us to elucidate the nature of dark energy by helping to discover and identify distant type Ia supernovae. These are excellent distance indicators and can be used to map out space and its expansion history. In addition to this geometric method the E-ELT will also attempt, for the first time, to constrain dark energy by directly observing the global dynamics of the Universe: the evolution of the expansion rate causes a tiny time-drift in the redshifts of distant objects and the E-ELT will be able to detect this effect in the intergalactic medium. This measurement will offer a truly independent and unique approach to the exploration of the expansion history of the Universe.

    The E-ELT will also search for possible variations over cosmic time of fundamental physical constants, such as the fine-structure constant and the proton-to-electron mass ratio. An unambiguous detection of such variations would have far-reaching consequences for unified theories of the fundamental interactions, for the existence of extra dimensions of space and/or time, and for the possibility of scalar fields acting in the late Universe.

    4
    The E-ELT will pursue a vigorous scientific programme of exploring the formation and evolution of galaxies in the high redshift Universe. Although a satisfactory scenario describing the hierarchical assembly of dark matter halos is now well established, our physical understanding of the build-up of the baryonic component of galaxies is only fragmentary and fundamentally incomplete. With the enormous sensitivity and resolution gains of the E-ELT we will be able to peer beyond our present horizons and uncover the physical processes that form and transform galaxies across cosmic time. The E-ELT will provide us with spatially resolved spectroscopic surveys of hundreds of massive galaxies all the way out to the redshifts of the most distant galaxies presently known, supplying us with the kind of detailed information on their stellar masses, ages, metallicities, star formation rates and dynamical states that is currently only available for low redshift galaxies.

    The E-ELT will also push back to the crucial earliest stages of galaxy formation, right at the end of the dark ages, by identifying the galaxies responsible for the reionization of the Universe and by informing us of their basic properties. Through these observations the E-ELT will drive the transition from the current phenomenological models to a much more physical understanding of galaxy formation and evolution.

    5
    The E-ELT offers the exciting prospect of reconstructing the formation and evolution histories of a representative sample of galaxies in the nearby Universe by studying their resolved stellar populations.

    16
    Local Group of nearby galaxies. Andrew Z. Colvin

    A galaxy’s stellar populations carry a memory of its entire star formation history, and decoding this information offers detailed insights into the galaxy’s past. However, studying stellar populations requires the capability of resolving and measuring individual stars and so up until now such studies have been limited to our own Galaxy and its nearest neighbours. In particular, no examples of large elliptical galaxies are within reach of current telescopes for this type of study.

    With its superior resolution and photon collecting power the E-ELT will allow us to perform precise photometry and spectroscopy on the stellar populations of a much more representative sample of galaxies, reaching out to the nearest giant ellipticals at the distance of the Virgo cluster.

    15
    This deep image of the Virgo Cluster obtained by Chris Mihos and his colleagues using the Burrell Schmidt telescope shows the diffuse light between the galaxies belonging to the cluster. North is up, east to the left. The dark spots indicate where bright foreground stars were removed from the image. Messier 87 is the largest galaxy in the picture (lower left).

    Case Western Burrell Schmidt telescope Kitt Peak
    Case Western Reserve Burrell Schmitt telescope at Kitt Peak, AZ, USA

    Thus, the E-ELT will provide detailed information on the star formation, metal enrichment and kinematic histories of nearby galaxies, showing us how they were formed and built-up over time.

    6
    Discovering and characterising planets and proto-planetary systems around other stars will be one of the most important and exciting aspects of the E-ELT science programme. This will include not only the discovery of planets down to Earth-like masses using the radial velocity technique but also the direct imaging of larger planets and possibly even the characterisation of their atmospheres.

    The E-ELT will be capable of detecting reflected light from mature giant planets (Jupiter to Neptune-like) and may be able to probe their atmospheres through low resolution spectroscopy. It will also enable us to directly study planetary systems during their formation from proto-planetary discs around many nearby very young stars. Furthermore, observations of giant planets in young stellar clusters and star forming regions will trace their evolution as a function of age. Thus, the E-ELT will answer fundamental questions regarding planet formation and evolution, the planetary environment of other stars, and the uniqueness (or otherwise) of the Solar System and Earth.

    7
    This artist’s impression shows the magnetar in the very rich and young star cluster Westerlund 1. This remarkable cluster contains hundreds of very massive stars, some shining with a brilliance of almost one million suns. European astronomers have for the first time demonstrated that this magnetar — an unusual type of neutron star with an extremely strong magnetic field — probably was formed as part of a binary star system. The discovery of the magnetar’s former companion elsewhere in the cluster helps solve the mystery of how a star that started off so massive could become a magnetar, rather than collapse into a black hole. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

    8
    May this holiday season sparkle and shine, may all of your wishes and dreams come true, and may you feel this happiness all year round. Wishing you much happiness today and throughout the New Year.
    The E-ELT Admin team

    9
    NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are two spiral galaxies of similar sizes engaged in a dramatic dance. It is not certain that this interaction will end in a collision and ultimately a merging of the two galaxies, although the galaxies have already been affected. Together known as Arp 271, this dance will last for tens of millions of years, creating new stars as a result of the mutual gravitational attraction between the galaxies, a pull seen in the bridge of stars already connecting the two. Located 90 million light-years away towards the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin), the Arp 271 pair is about 130 000 light-years across. It was originally discovered in 1785 by William Herschel. Quite possibly, our own Milky Way will undergo a similar collision in about five billion years with the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy, which is now located about 2.6 million light-years away from the Milky Way. This image was taken with the EFOSC instrument, attached to the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The data were acquired through three different filters (B, V, and R) for a total exposure time of 4440 seconds. The field of view is about 4 arcminutes. Credit: ESO — with Abel Moreira.

    ESO EFOSC2
    ESO/EFOSC instrument

    16
    Andromeda Galaxy via NASA/GALEX

    NASA Galex telescope
    NASA/GALEX

    10
    A long exposure has captured the setting stars in a moonlit night in form of colorful star trails above La Silla telescope domes and inversion layer in the southern outskirts of the Atacama desert, Chile. The trails are notabely distorted at the horizon as seen in this telephoto view. This mirage is similar to other common mirage of astronomical object such as the moon or the sun when they are near the horizon; an optical phenomenon in which light rays are refracted and bent in the atmosphere to produce distorted or multiple images of the object. The European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) site at La Silla has telescopes which observe at optical and infrared. The largest optical telescope has a mirror with a diameter of 3.6 metres. The high altitude of La Silla (2400 metres), the dark sky, and the clear air above it (reducing atmospheric distortions of incoming light), make the site an ideal location for astronomical observations. Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi (twanight.org)— with Abel Moreira.

    11
    An artist’s rendering of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in the Chilean Atacama Desert. In the distance, ESO’s Paranal Observatory sits atop the Cerro Paranal mountain.(You can grasp the dimension of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) by looking at the cars nearby.) Image credit: ESO / L.Calcada http://www.eso.org/public/images/elt-fulldome-1_cc/

    12
    ESOcast 76: A Polarised View of Stellar Magnetism ESO telescopes are being used to search for the subtle signs of magnetic fields in other stars and even to map out the star spots on their surfaces. This ESOcast looks at how this information — and particularly the polarisation of light — is beginning to reveal how and why so many stars, including our own Sun, are magnetic, and what the implications might be for life on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe. — with Abel Moreira.

    13
    ESO has signed an agreement with a consortium of institutes around Europe for the design and construction of METIS, an infrared camera and spectrograph for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The agreement was signed by H. W. (Willem) te Beest, Vice-President Executive Board, Leiden University, on behalf of the consortium, and Tim de Zeeuw, ESO Director General, at a ceremony at the Science Faculty Club of Leiden University in the Netherlands, on 28 September 2015.

    14
    Haro 11 appears to shine gently amid clouds of gas and dust, but this placid facade belies the monumental rate of star formation occurring in this starburst” galaxy. By combining data from ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have created a new image of this incredibly bright and distant galaxy.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    The team of astronomers from Stockholm University, Sweden, and the Geneva Observatory, Switzerland, have identified 200 separate clusters of very young, massive stars. Most of these are less than 10 million years old. Many of the clusters are so bright in infrared light that astronomers suspect that the stars are still emerging from the cloudy cocoons where they were born. The observations have led the astronomers to conclude that Haro 11 is most likely the result of a merger between a galaxy rich in stars and a younger, gas-rich galaxy. Haro 11 is found to produce stars at a frantic rate, converting about 20 solar masses of gas into stars every year.

    Haro galaxies, first discovered by the noted astronomer Guillermo Haro in 1956, are defined by unusually intense blue and violet light. Usually this high energy radiation comes from the presence of many newborn stars or an active galactic nucleus. Haro 11 is about 300 million light-years away and is the second closest of such starburst galaxies.

    The paper describing this result (“Super star clusters in Haro 11: Properties of a very young starburst and evidence for a near-infrared flux excess”, by A. Adamo et al.) is available here. Credit: ESO/ESA/Hubble and NASA

    View ESO photos here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

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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
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on July 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT, , SPACE DAILY   

    From SPACE DAILY: “New Method Finds Best Candidates for Telescope Time” 

    Temp 1

    SPACE DAILY

    Jul 22, 2015
    Amanda Doyle for Astrobiology Magazine

    If life exists on planets beyond our Solar System, its presence could be obscured by the haze and clouds in the planet’s atmosphere. Even next generation telescopes – such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as well as ground-based telescopes like the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) – will have a hard time penetrating such hazy worlds in search of biomarkers.

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/Webb

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT Interior
    ESO/E-ELT

    Astronomers Amit Misra and Victoria Meadows of the University of Washington have developed a new technique to check if a planet has clear skies, which will make it easier for astrobiologists to target the most promising exoplanet candidates for life. Their research has been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute element of the Astrobiology Program at NASA.

    1
    Light being refracted in the atmosphere of the Earth can sometimes create a halo around the Sun or Moon. Similarly, light from another star being refracted in an exoplanet atmosphere can cause an increase in the amount of light detected from the star just before the planet transits. Image courtesy Doug Wilson.

    Hazy worlds

    As a planet transits a star, light from that star passes through the planet’s atmosphere and certain molecules in the planet’s atmosphere absorb the light, enabling astronomers to measure the composition of the atmosphere. This technique is known as transit transmission spectroscopy, and extending this to Earth-like planets is quite a challenge.

    The height of the atmosphere of a potentially habitable planet is minuscule compared to that of a gas giant or icy planet close to its host star, so catching the light of the star as it passes through the atmosphere of an Earth-like planet will require extremely lengthy observations. For example, JWST would require around 200 hours to detect the spectrum, while the E-ELT would need at least 20 hours. Even with extensive observations, it is possible that the spectrum would reveal nothing if all the atmospheric features were masked by clouds or haze.

    “We’ve seen a couple of cases already in which observers have spent substantial telescope time on a single target only to get a flat, featureless spectrum,” says Misra. “Telescope time is valuable, so it would be useful to know which exoplanets to spend hundreds of hours on beforehand.”

    Planets with halos

    Misra and Meadows have thought of a solution to this problem. On Earth, light can be refracted by ice crystals in the atmosphere resulting in a halo around the Sun or Moon. The same principle can be applied to exoplanets, as the starlight being refracted in the planet’s atmosphere can create a halo around the planet.

    Transiting exoplanets are revealed through a regular dip in light from the star. The refraction halo amplifies the light a little so that it can be seen as a bump in the light curve.

    “We can see the effect in the light curve prior to and after the transit itself, and you don’t need transit transmission spectroscopy, you could just measure brightness,” explains Meadows.

    A planet covered in clouds or haze would not refract light easily, as the atmospheric layer where the refraction occurs would be murky and block the light. Therefore, if refraction was detected, it would imply that the planet has a clear atmosphere and is an excellent target for follow up spectroscopy.

    The scientists used computer models to predict the strength of the refractive signal that would be detected for different types of planetary atmospheres. They simulated Solar System planet atmospheres, as well as super-Earths and mini-Neptunes, while also taking into account the distance of the planet from the star, as this will affect the angle of deflection of the light.

    Their results showed that planets akin to Saturn would have the highest signal, as they are large in size. They also have the advantage of having a lower surface gravity than the higher mass Jupiter planets, meaning that the atmosphere is quite extended. For both Jupiter and Saturn analogue planets, JWST could detect a refracted light signal in less than ten hours. E-ELT could detect signals from super-Earths and mini-Neptunes in the same amount of time. In contrast, a hazy planet would need more than 100 hours of E-ELT time before the refraction signal could be distinguished.

    Earth-like atmospheres

    E-ELT has the potential to detect habitable exoplanets with clear skies. Of course this does not mean that no clouds are present at all, as clouds on Earth are essential for the water cycle.

    “Earth’s water clouds are typically close to the surface, and while they can reduce the detectability of molecular absorption features in transit transmission, work that I and others have done has shown that it should still be possible to detect features from gases like carbon dioxide, water, and possibly even oxygen for a cloudy, Earth-like planet,” says Misra.

    This new work is an important step forward towards characterizing atmospheres of Earth-like planets. By only needing a few hours of E-ELT time to see if a planet has an atmosphere worthy of follow up, the longer observations can then be used to acquire the spectra that are vital in the search for life.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “First Instruments for E-ELT Approved” 


    European Southern Observatory

    10 July 2015
    Lars Lindberg Christensen
    Head of ESO ePOD
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
    Cell: +49 173 3872 621
    Email: lars@eso.org

    1

    [This composite image of the new instruments is all that is available at this time. When better images are made available, they will be captured and used.]

    Following the recommendations of the ESO Finance Committee (FC) and Scientific Technical Committee (STC), Council authorised the Director General to sign the contracts for the first set of instruments for the E-ELT. These huge and innovative tools to analyse the light collected by the giant telescope will allow the E-ELT to address a wide range of astronomical questions soon after its completion. The choices are based on extensive input from the astronomical communities in ESO’s Member States.

    This instrumentation package comprises a near-infrared imager with spectroscopic capability (MICADO), a multi-conjugate adaptive optics unit (MAORY), which will feed MICADO (and possibly additional future instruments); an integral field spectrograph (HARMONI), along with development of its laser tomography adaptive optics system to preliminary design review level; and a mid-infrared imager and spectrometer (METIS).

    MICADO, coupled with MAORY, will allow the full resolution of the telescope to be brought to bear on many current areas of research. A key driver for the instrument design is astrometric accuracy. Such detailed measurements of the positions of objects will allow, amongst other projects, the orbits of stars around the black hole at the centre of our galaxy to be tracked with unprecedented precision.

    HARMONI will make 3D observations of astronomical objects on scales ranging from planetary orbits to entire galaxies. One example of the potential of such an instrument is that HARMONI will enable us to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies from the earliest times in the history of the Universe right up until the present day.

    The METIS instrument, working at longer wavelengths, will also have a wide range of applications across all branches of astronomy. It will provide an invaluable link for astronomers wishing to follow up discoveries made with the James Webb Space Telescope by providing far greater spatial detail and dynamical information than can be achieved from space.

    Selection of the science capabilities of the E-ELT was a communal effort based on dedicated meetings and workshops and the work of the science teams of the instrument Phase A studies carried out during the E-ELT Phase B design. The Science Working Group (SWG) of the E-ELT Science and Engineering subcommittee (ESE) of the STC contributed to the final science case, developing the science priorities and the sequence of instruments. These were encapsulated in an instrumentation roadmap that was part of the E-ELT construction proposal. The requirements were refined and finalised by the Project Science Team after the completion of Phase B.

    The construction of these instruments is included within the Phase 1 E-ELT Programme approved by Council in December 2014.

    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
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 7:49 am on June 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Contract Signed for Final Design and Construction of Largest Adaptive Mirror Unit in the World” 


    European Southern Observatory

    19 June 2015

    Elise Vernet
    ESO, Adaptive Optics Department (Instrumentation)
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 320 06 322
    Fax: +49 89 320 2362
    Email: evernet@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    ESO has signed a contract with the AdOptica consortium in Italy — ADS International and Microgate, partnered with INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica) as subcontractors — for the final design and construction of the very challenging adaptive unit for the fourth mirror (M4) of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This mirror system will surpass any adaptive mirror ever made for a telescope and be the largest of its kind.

    The contract was signed by representatives of AdOptica and ESO at a ceremony at ESO Headquarters on 19 June 2015.

    The AdOptica contract does not include the manufacture of the shell mirrors themselves. These will be constructed under a separate contract that will be announced soon.

    The M4 deformable 2.4-metre mirror system forms a fundamental part of the E-ELT. It consists of a mirror made from six component petals, actuators and control systems that can correct the image distortion caused by the turbulence of the Earth’s atmosphere in real time, as well as correct for deformations of the structure of the main telescope caused by wind. The corrected optical system will make the images obtained at the telescope almost as sharp as those taken in space [1].

    Construction of a mirror system like this has never been attempted before and studies began in 2008 with two competitive contracts for a preliminary design for the E-ELT. In 2012, AdOptica was selected from two competitive designs. Since 2012, AdOptica has developed the preliminary design for the unit. The design has evolved significantly to fulfil stability requirements. The preliminary design review was successfully passed in April 2015 and the company has demonstrated the design with a one-metre mirror demonstration prototype that fulfils ESO’s performance requirements.

    The new contract will be for the final design and manufacturing of the M4 unit. The planning calls for the final design to be completed by mid-2017, and then the unit will be manufactured and tested in Europe against the performance requirements before being shipped to Chile by the end of 2022.
    Notes

    [1] The mirror’s shape is controlled by approximately 5700 actuators. A hexapod allows tip/tilt and large lateral movements.

    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
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 5:52 pm on December 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT,   

    From ESO: ESOcast 70 The E-ELT is Green Lighted 


    European Southern Observatory

    The European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT for short, will be by far the largest optical and near-infrared telescope in the world. In early December 2014 the ESO Council gave the go-ahead for the first construction phase of the telescope.

    Watch, enjoy, learn

    See the full article here.

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:16 am on December 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Green Light for E-ELT Construction” 


    European Southern Observatory

    4 December 2014
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    At a recent meeting ESO’s main governing body, the Council, gave the green light [1] for the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in two phases. Spending of around one billion euros has been authorised for the first phase, which will cover the construction costs of a fully working telescope with a suite of powerful instruments and first light targeted in ten years time. It will enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the fields of exoplanets, the stellar composition of nearby galaxies and the deep Universe. The largest ESO contract ever, for the telescope dome and main structure, will be placed within the next year.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT Interior
    ESO/ E-ELT

    The E-ELT will be a 39-metre aperture optical and infrared telescope sited on Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Atacama Desert, 20 kilometres from ESO’s Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal. It will be the world’s largest “eye on the sky”.

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    ESO VLT Interior
    ESO/VLT

    “The decision taken by Council means that the telescope can now be built, and that major industrial construction work for the E-ELT is now funded and can proceed according to plan. There is already a lot of progress in Chile on the summit of Armazones and the next few years will be very exciting,” said Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General.

    The construction of the E-ELT was approved by ESO’s Council in June 2012 under the condition that contracts with a value larger than 2 million euros could only be awarded once the total cost of the telescope (1083 million euros at 2012 prices) was funded to a 90% level. An exception was granted for the civil works at the site, which started with the groundbreaking ceremony in June 2014 and are making good progress.

    For the time being, 10% of the overall project costs have been shifted to a second phase. With the accession of Poland to ESO, the current funding commitments to the E-ELT have now reached more than 90% of the total cost of the first phase that will bring a fully working E-ELT. Additional commitments from upcoming Member State Brazil are expected in the coming years.

    To prevent the project from slipping, the ESO Council has decided that construction of the first phase of the 39-metre telescope can now proceed. This funded work includes the contract for the telescope’s dome and main structure — the largest in ESO’s history — which will be awarded in late 2015, and leads to the construction of a fully working E-ELT.

    Telescope components that are not yet funded include parts of the adaptive optics system, some of the instrument work, the innermost five rings of segments of the telescope’s main mirror (210 mirror segments) and a spare set of primary mirror segments needed for more efficient telescope operation in the future. The construction of these components, whose postponement does not reduce the extraordinary scientific achievements the telescope will already be able to accomplish at the end of phase one, will be approved as additional funding becomes available, including that expected from the upcoming Member State Brazil.

    For further information consult this FAQ and Messenger article that explains the details.

    “The funds that are now committed will allow the construction of a fully working E-ELT that will be the most powerful of all the extremely large telescope projects currently planned, with superior light collecting area and instrumentation. It will allow the initial characterisation of Earth-mass exoplanets, the study of the resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies as well as ultra-sensitive observations of the deep Universe,” concludes Tim de Zeeuw.
    Notes

    [1] The decision needed ten positive votes (out of fourteen). Eleven positive votes were obtained. Three votes are ad referendum votes, which means that they are to be considered as provisionally positive and are subject to confirmation by the authorities in these three Member States before the next Council meeting. Once they are confirmed, this would mean that the Council decision would be unanimous.

    See the full article here.

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESA Euronews: The E-ELT 

    Here is a neat video, about 8 minutes, from Euronews and ESA about ESO’s E-ELT

    Enjoy and learn.


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  • richardmitnick 5:31 pm on June 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Spain Confirms Participation in the E-ELT” 


    European Southern Observatory

    3 June 2014

    On 3 June 2014, during the 131st meeting of the ESO Council, the Spanish delegation informed the Council that the Spanish Council of Ministers had approved the participation of Spain in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) supplementary programme. The Council very much welcomed the statement of the Spanish delegation and unanimously approved the participation of Spain in the E-ELT programme. The ESO Council and the ESO Executive are delighted that all ESO Member States are now in the E-ELT programme.

    e-elt

    See the full article here.

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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