http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ... ESOcast 30: First Images from the VLT Survey Telescope - VST and OmegaCAM start work. This ESOcast introduces the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), the latest addition to ESO's Paranal Observatory. This new telescope has just made its first release of impressive images of the southern sky. The VST is a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre telescope, with the huge 268-megapixel camera OmegaCAM at its heart. It is designed to map the sky both quickly and with very fine image quality. It is a visible-light telescope that perfectly complements ESO's VISTA infrared survey telescope. New images of the Omega Nebula and the globular cluster Omega Centauri demonstrate the VST's power. --- Please subscribe to Science & Reason: • http://www.youtube.com/Best0fScience • http://www.youtube.com/ScienceTV • http://www.youtube.com/FFreeThinker --- A new telescope for mapping the skies is about to start work at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VLT Survey Telescope, or VST, with the 268 megapixel OmegaCAM camera at its heart, is the latest addition to the observatory. It is the largest telescope in the world designed to survey the sky in visible light. The special thing about the VST is that it has a very wide field of view — about twice as broad as the full Moon. It's dedicated to mapping the skies both very quickly and with very high image quality. The VST is housed in an enclosure right next to the VLT Unit Telescopes on the summit of Cerro Paranal under the pristine skies of one of the best observing sites on the planet. Over the next few years the VST and its huge camera OmegaCAM will be busy making some very detailed maps of the southern skies and in this episode you'll get to see the very first released images from this brand new telescope. The VST is a visible light telescope that perfectly complements the VISTA infrared survey telescope. The unique combination of the VST and VISTA will allow many interesting objects to be identified that can then be studied in detail with the powerful telescopes of the VLT. The VST is a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre telescope equipped with an active optics system that keeps the two mirrors of the telescope perfectly aligned at all times in order to ensure the highest possible image quality. Now, at its core, behind huge lenses, lies the OmegaCAM camera which was built around no less than 32 CCD detectors which, together, create a whopping 268 megapixel image. The camera also contains some extra CCDs that help with the telescope guiding and the active optics system, as well as some absolutely enormous colour filters. Both the telescope and the camera were designed to take full advantage of the excellent observing conditions on Paranal. The VST will make three public surveys over the next five years. One survey, called KIDS, will image several regions of the sky away from the Milky Way. It will help astronomers understand more about dark matter, dark energy and galaxy evolution, and find many new galaxy clusters and high-redshift quasars. The VST ATLAS survey will cover a larger area of sky and will focus on determining the properties of dark energy. Like KIDS, it will also hunt for far-away galaxies and quasars. The third survey, VPHAS+, will image the central plane of the Milky Way to map the structure of the Galactic disc and its star-formation history. It will yield a catalogue of around 500 million objects and will discover many new examples of unusual stars at all stages of their evolution. The VST has just made its first release of images: The spectacular Omega Nebula, also known as Swan Nebula, is a region of gas, dust and hot young stars that lies in the heart of the Milky Way. The VST field of view is so large that the entire nebula, including its fainter outer parts, is captured — and retains its superb sharpness cross the entire field. Omega Centauri is the largest globular cluster in the sky. But the VST, with its very wide field of view, has no problem in capturing the whole object in a single image, including its very faint outer regions. This image contains about 300 000 stars and it highlights the impressive sharpness of the VST's images. The combination of large field of view, excellent image quality, and the very efficient operations scheme of the VST will produce an enormous wealth of information that will advance a number of different fields of astrophysics. Many astronomers — including myself, actually — are really looking forward to the first results from the VST surveys. Credit: ESO .
http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ... ESOcast 23: A telescope's wire to the world. Stretching 100 kilometres through Chile's harsh Atacama Desert, a newly inaugurated data cable is creating new opportunities at ESO's Paranal Observatory and the Observatorio Cerro Armazones. Connecting these facilities to the main Latin American scientific data backbone completes the last gap in the high-speed link between the observatories and Europe. --- Please SUBSCRIBE to Science & Reason: • http://www.youtube.com/Best0fScience • http://www.youtube.com/ScienceTV • http://www.youtube.com/FFreeThinker --- EVALSO: A New High-speed Data Link to Chilean Observatories This new cable is part of the EVALSO (Enabling Virtual Access to Latin American Southern Observatories) project, a European Commission FP7 co-funded programme co-ordinated by the University of Trieste that includes ESO, Observatorio Cerro Armazones (OCA, part of Ruhr-Universität Bochum), the Chilean academic network REUNA and other organisations. As well as the cable itself, the EVALSO project involves buying capacity on existing infrastructure to complete a high-bandwidth connection from the Paranal area to ESO's headquarters near Munich, Germany. Project co-ordinator Fernando Liello said: "This project has been an excellent collaboration between the consortium members. As well as giving a fast connection to the two observatories, it brings wider benefits to the academic communities both in Europe and Latin America." The sites of Paranal and Armazones are ideal for astronomical observation due to their high altitude, clear skies and remoteness from light pollution. But their location means they are far from any pre-existing communications infrastructure, which until now has left them dependent on a microwave link to send scientific data back to a base station near Antofagasta. Telescopes at ESO's Paranal observatory produce well over 100 gigabytes of data per night, equivalent to more than 20 DVDs, even after compressing the files. While the existing link is sufficient to carry the data from the current generation of instruments at the Very Large Telescope (VLT), it does not have the bandwidth to handle data from the VISTA telescope (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, see eso0949), or for the new generation of VLT instruments coming online in the next few years. This means that for much of the data coming from Paranal, the only practical way to send it to ESO Headquarters has been to save it onto hard drives and send these by airmail. This can mean a wait of days or even weeks before observations from VISTA are ready for analysis. Even with this careful rationing of the connection and sophisticated data management to use the connection as efficiently as possible, the link can get saturated at peak times. While this causes no major problems at present, it indicates that the link is reaching capacity. ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw said: "ESO's observatory at Paranal is growing, with new telescopes and instruments coming online. Our world-class scientific observatories need state-of-the-art infrastructure." In the place of the existing connection, which has a limit of 16 megabit/s (similar to home ADSL broadband), EVALSO will provide a much faster 10 gigabit/s link — a speed fast enough to transfer an entire DVD movie in a matter of seconds. Mario Campolargo, Director, Emerging Technologies and Infrastructures at the European Commission, said: "It is strategically important that the community of astronomers of Europe gets the best access possible to the ESO observatories: this is one of the reasons why the European Union supports the deployment of regional e-infrastructures for science in Latin America and interlinks them with GÉANT and other EU e-infrastructures." The dramatic increase in bandwidth will allow increased use of Paranal's data from a distance, in real-time. It will allow easier monitoring of the VISTA telescope's performance, and quicker access to VLT data, increasing the responsiveness of quality control. And with the expanded bandwidth, new opportunities will open up, such as astronomers and technicians taking part in meetings via high-definition videoconferencing without having to travel to Chile. Moreover, looking forward, the new link will provide enough bandwidth to keep up with the ever-growing volumes of information from Paranal and Armazones in future years, as new and bandwidth-intensive instruments come into use. Immediate remote access to data at a distant location is not just about saving money and making the observatory's work more efficient. For unexpected and unpredictable events, such as gamma-ray bursts, there is often not enough time for astronomers to travel to observatories, and EVALSO will give experts a chance to work remotely on these events almost as if they were at the observatory. • http://www.eso.org .
telescopes eso paranal observatory very large telescope vlt vista observatorio cerro armazones evalso enabling virtual access to latin american southern observatories chile atacama desert data cable wire europe trieste oca ruhr university reuna geant headquarters munich germany collaboration astronomical observations light pollution scientific
Science & Reason on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ScienceReason ESOcast 16: E-ELT Site Chosen. On 26 April 2010, the ESO Council selected Cerro Armazones as the site for the planned 42-metre European Extremely Large Telescope. Cerro Armazones is an isolated mountain at 3060 metres altitude in the central part of Chile's Atacama Desert, some 130 kilometres south of the town of Antofagasta and about 20 kilometres away from Cerro Paranal, home of ESOs Very Large Telescope. --- Please subscribe to Science & Reason: • http://www.youtube.com/Best0fScience • http://www.youtube.com/ScienceMagazine • http://www.youtube.com/ScienceTV • http://www.youtube.com/FFreeThinker --- "This is an important milestone that allows us to finalise the baseline design of this very ambitious project, which will vastly advance astronomical knowledge," says Tim de Zeeuw, ESOs Director General. "I thank the site selection team for the tremendous work they have done over the past few years." ESOs next step is to build a European extremely large optical/infrared telescope (E-ELT) with a primary mirror 42 metres in diameter. The E-ELT will be "the worlds biggest eye on the sky" — the only such telescope in the world. ESO is drawing up detailed construction plans together with the community. The E-ELT will address many of the most pressing unsolved questions in astronomy, and may, eventually, revolutionise our perception of the Universe, much as Galileo's telescope did 400 years ago. The final go-ahead for construction is expected at the end of 2010, with the start of operations planned for 2018. The decision on the E-ELT site was taken by the ESO Council, which is the governing body of the Organisation composed of representatives of ESOs fourteen Member States, and is based on an extensive comparative meteorological investigation, which lasted several years. The majority of the data collected during the site selection campaigns will be made public in the course of the year 2010. http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1018/ .