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101 – September 2000

Successful Completion of an Ambitious Project –

A Midwinter Night’s Dream

At 21:44 hours on the night of tive optics instruments, NAOS CONI- ilege of actually being in the observing
September 3, the test camera at the CA and SINFONI, as well as our first hut of Yepun at the crucial moment,
Cassegrain focus was opened for 30 laser guide star, on Yepun, rather than sharing the excitement of the VLT Man-
seconds, and the fourth VLT Unit on Melipal (UT3) as we had originally ager, Massimo Tarenghi, of the Director
Telescope, Yepun, saw First Light. A planned. of Paranal Observatory, Roberto Gil-
historic event in the life of ESO; this By virtue of becoming ESO’s Director mozzi, and of the members of the com-
first light marks the successful conclu- General at the right time, I had the priv- missioning team, Jason Spyromilio,
sion of the important period which start-
ed with the approval of the VLT project
by the ESO Council in December 1987.
Exceptionally for such a complex and
expensive project, the four VLT tele-
scopes have come into operation
ahead of schedule. The VLT is no
longer only a project, it is now also an
Observatory. The first challenge has
been met, thanks to the skill and dedi-
cation of astronomers, engineers and
technicians at ESO and its collaborat-
ing institutes and of many industrial
firms throughout Europe: four 8.2-m
telescopes of exceptional quality are
standing on Cerro Paranal.
The primary mirror arrived at Paranal
on April 11, received an aluminium
coating in early June, and by the end of
July was installed in its cell, ready for
use. The secondary mirror followed
rapidly; it arrived on August 25th, was
coated on the 26th and set in its mount
Most of the crew that put together Yepun is here photographed after the installation of the
on the 27th. The primary mirror of
M1 mirror cell at the bottom of the mechanical structure (on July 30, 2000). Back row (left to
Yepun is the best of all the large astro- right): Erich Bugueno (Mechanical Supervisor), Erito Flores (Maintenance Technician); front
nomical mirrors polished by REOSC to row (left to right) Peter Gray (Mechanical Engineer), German Ehrenfeld (Mechanical
date, with a surface precision of only Engineer), Mario Tapia (Mechanical Engineer), Christian Juica (kneeling – Mechanical
8.5 nanometres. To fully exploit its out- Technician), Nelson Montano (Maintenance Engineer), Hansel Sepulveda (Mechanical
standing optics, we will install the adap- Technician) and Roberto Tamai (Mechanical Engineer).

Krister Wirenstrand and Rodrigo Ames- spent in the VLT Control room in the ESO and for the numerous laboratories
tica. It was a cold night, appropriate to appropriate celebratory manner, taking throughout Europe with which it collab-
the late Chilean winter, and we could more images, attending to the PR re- orates: the completion of the ambitious
hear the wind howling outside. We had quirements, and drinking champagne instrumental programme and of the
chosen our first light target in advance: with the teams observing on the other corresponding data-acquisition, flow
the planetary nebula He 2-428. In a few telescopes. and reduction tools, and the develop-
minutes, the guide star was acquired, Everyone present felt the sense of ment of the VLT Interferometer, the
the position and shape of the mirrors accomplishment, triumph and elation next project on the mountain. Already
were actively corrected, and we could that always accompanies the culmina- underway, these will both come to
see on the computer screen the unmis- tion of a great human adventure. fruition in the next few years.
takable shape of the source, with an Thus did I celebrate the beginning of Finally, the whole ESO scientific
image quality limited only by the at- my second year at ESO. I cannot imag- community faces the biggest chal-
mospheric seeing (0.9 arcsec at the ine any better way. lenge: to make momentous and origi-
time). The rest of the evening was Two important challenges remain for nal discoveries with the VLT!

ISAAC: 18 Months of Paranal Science Operations


1. Introduction livered to the Paranal Observatory in MDM, and 50 man-years were needed
June 1998, where it was re-assembled to build it. It has had, up to now, more
ISAAC was offered to the ESO as- and re-tested in the Integration Labora- than 40 cool-downs, operates at 70 K
tronomical community on April 1st, tory prior to installation on the tele- and uses 11 cryogenic functions. In
1999, as one of the first two VLT in- scope as scheduled. There were two some operational situations, the tele-
struments installed at UT1-Antu. commissioning periods, in November scope field stabilises (i.e. M2 tip-tilt) at
ISAAC (Infrared Spectrometer And 1998 and in February 1999 (Moorwood 70 Hz with full active optics control,
Array Camera) is a 1–5 µm imager and et al., 1998; Moorwood et al., 1999). while chopping every second (in the
spectrometer and has been fully de- ISAAC weighs 1.5 tons, is 2 m in di- Long Wavelength (LW)), nodding every
veloped by ESO (P.I. Alan Moorwood). ameter and required 3000 drawings for minute, synchronising M2 and detector
Figure 1 shows it mounted on the its design. It is made of 15,000 pieces, while reading out 106 pixels every 70
adaptor/rotator of the Nasmyth B focus. which were shipped in 40 boxes (30 ms, and can deliver images as good
Following integration and extensive tons) to Paranal (including laboratory as, or better than, 0.3 arcsec.
testing in Garching, ISAAC was de- equipment). Its cost amounted to 4.5 From this, let us make an obvious
statement: getting ISAAC to run on sky
was a challenge. The instrument and
the telescope have to work, the thou-
sands of parameters controlling this
complex system have to be fine-tuned.
This would not have been possible to
achieve without the prior success of the
instrument design, development and
integration, and the incontestable suc-
cess of the VLT.
The first year of ISAAC operations
was punctuated by a number of techni-
cal failures, mainly related to the cryo-
genic functions (gears, motors, bear-
ings). Fortunately, the impact on the
Science Operations could be limited to
a minimum. On one hand, most of the
problems were temporarily fixed by im-
mediate interventions on the instru-
ment by people from the Instrument
Division and/or from Paranal Engin-
eering, and, on the other hand, the flex-
ibility offered by the service mode al-
lowed to run FORS1 instead, hence
preserving telescope time. A few visitor
runs had however to be re-scheduled,
or transferred to service, or cancelled,
Figure 1: ISAAC at the Nasmyth B focus of the VLT UT1. The instrument is attached to the and only one visitor run (ironically with
adapter/rotator system and has a total weight of around 1.5 tons. The box at the left contains the visitor being one of the authors of
some of the electronics required for controlling and reading the two infrared array detectors. these lines) was affected in real time by
To the right is the co-rotator system that transfers all the electrical cables and gas hoses for
the closed-cycle coolers to the instrument and rotates with it and the adapter. At each side a technical failure. In total, no more than
of the co-rotator are cabinets containing electronics for controlling and monitoring the in - about 10 ISAAC nights were lost in one
strument functions and the vacuum and cryogenic system. Under the vacuum vessel, one year, the most affected programmes
can see part of the platform to which the instrument is attached for installation, removal and being in the LW domain. In the mean-
maintenance activities. time, the Instrument Division in Gar-

ching spent tireless efforts to investigate
Table 1: Main characteristics of ISAAC
and understand the cause of the prob-
lems, and eventually ended up with a
Short Wavelength (SW) Long Wavelength (LW)
new design for the faulty mechanical
parts. In February 2000, a major over-
Detector Hawaii 1024 × 1024 Aladdin 1024 × 1024
haul took place, and these parts were
2.5 × 2.5 arcmin, 0.147 arcsec/pixel 1.2 × 1.2 arcmin, 0.07 arcsec/pixel
replaced. In addition, the LW detector
was upgraded from a 256 × 256 array
21 filters (5 BB, 16 NB) 6 filters (5 NB, 1 BB (L))
to an Aladdin 1024 × 1024, together Imaging
1 Wollaston prism (+ mask)
with a new detector acquisition system.
Since then, ISAAC has run quietly with-
Rs P 500 (Low Resolution, 1 arcsec slit)
out any need for further interventions.
Spectroscopy Rs P 3000 (Medium Resolution, 1 arcsec slit)
Operating ISAAC is yet another chal-
4 slit widths (s): 0.3, 0.6, 1.0 and 2.0 arcsec
lenge. The performance, as it reaches
unprecedented levels, has to be as-
sessed, understood and monitored, The background between the OH Readout mode in imaging, and in
scientific needs have to be anticipated, lines was measured and its depend- Non-Destructive Readout mode in
users have to be offered simple, yet ence with the Moon phase was as- spectroscopy. The readout noise varies
powerful, tools, unanticipated situa- sessed during an eclipse of the Moon from less than 10 e– rms in non-
tions have to be dealt with, experience (January 2000). The main results are, destructive mode to ~ 15 e– rms in
from real observations and data reduc- pending more careful analysis to be DCR mode, the dark current is as
tion has to be fed back as soon as pos- described elsewhere: low as 0.01 e– s–1. The Aladdin array
sible while preserving configuration • In J, the background at 1.19 µm is equipping the LW channel is used
control, and this can only be achieved 1200 phot s–1 arcsec–2 µm–1 m–2, cor - in Uncorrelated or Double Correlated
if the various people involved in the op- responding to a magnitude of ~ 18 in reads depending on application. The
eration chain work together. dark sky conditions. readout noise varies accordingly be-
In practice, Science Operations • In H, the background at 1.70 µm is tween 50 and 100 e– rms. See Finger
started on D-day; many science pro- 2300 phot s–1 arcsec–2 µm–1 m–2, cor - et al., 2000, for a more detailed de-
grammes were completed in visitor and responding to a magnitude ~16.5 in dark scription of the ISAAC detectors.
service modes in the very first weeks of sky conditions. This value is 4 times
operations. Still, many things have higher than the value reported by Mai- Spectroscopic detection limits
been improved since the start of the hara et al., 1993 as measured in Hawaii. As a guideline, a detection limit of
operations, and the steep learning • At ~ 30° distance from the Moon, 10–17 ergs s–1 cm–2 for emission lines
curve of the first months has now sta- the background between the OH lines between the OH lines is achievable in
bilised towards a flatter one. We have increases by a factor 4 to 5 depending just a few hours of time in Medium-
learned a lot, optimised accordingly, on phase. Resolution Spectroscopy, depending
developed tools to ease the operations • At more than 70° from the Moon, on wavelength, line width, slit width,
and data reduction. All of our first visi- there is little dependence on the phase, etc.
tors, whenever the weather was on meaning that the background is almost
their side, left Paranal enthusiastic at its minimum, within a factor of 2. 2.1 Miscellaneous
about the observatory, the VLT, ISAAC Background-limited observations be- performance issues
and their data. tween the OH lines require long inte-
We will summarise in this Messenger gration times, above 10–15 minutes of During the course of the first year of
article where we are with ISAAC, from time, and low readout noise. With long operation, we had to live with, or dis-
a Paranal perspective, after about 18 integration times, the density of hot pix- cover a number of issues, most of them
months of operations. els increases significantly, and a com- intrinsic to the detectors and/or to a
promise has to be found between data cryogenic instrument, for which proce-
2. Characteristics and integrity and purely background-limited dures have been implemented (SW) or
Performance performances. are being investigated (LW).

The main characteristics of ISAAC Efficiency Short Wavelengths (SW)

are summarised in Table 1. There are The overall efficiency, measured as • Electrical ghost with the Hawaii
two channels, one covering the [1–2.5] detected electrons to photons incident array. A feature of this detector is to
µm range (SW) and one covering the at the top of the atmosphere varies generate on each line and on the line
[2–5.5] µm range. In spectroscopy, from ~ 20% at 1 µm to ~ 30% in K or 512 lines away a bias of constant in-
there are 2 gratings providing low (Rs L, in imaging. In spectroscopy, the effi - tensity proportional to the number of
~ 500) and medium (Rs ~ 3000) reso- ciency is further modulated by the grat- counts integrated along the line. This
lution spectroscopy with a 1-arcsec slit. ing diffraction efficiency, and varies effect has been characterised, and a
The highest achievable resolution is ~ from ~ 8% to 20%, from top of the at- reduction routine has been implement-
10,000 with a 0.3 arcsec slit. The inter- mosphere to the detector. ed (is_ghost, in the eclipse data reduc-
ested reader can find more informa- tion package, Devillard, 1997) and al-
tion on the capabilities of ISAAC at Image quality, distortion lows to accurately correct for it. The image quality in the LW and SW • Persistence effects with the Hawaii
channels is extremely good, from 1 to array. These persistence effects have
Sky backgrounds and emissivity 1.5 pixels (0.147 arcsec/pixel) all over some operational consequences (see
The telescope emissivity was meas- the array. The field distortion in SW section 3.1).
ured in Medium Resolution Spectros- amounts to 2 pixels at the edges and
copy at ~ 2.5 µm, in Narrow-Band im- 3.5 pixels at the very corners of the
aging at 3.28 µm and in broad band L. field of view. Table 2: Typical backgrounds
With a freshly coated mirror the emis- (mag/arcsec–2)
sivity is 17%. Detector performance
Typical backgrounds in mag/arc- Band J H Ks L M_NB
The Hawaii array equipping the SW
sec–2 are given in Table 2. Magnitude 16.5 14.4 13.0 3.9 1.2
channel is used in Double Correlated

• The Hawaii array suffers from bias ing people from the various groups in- The User Support Group generates
variations with detector integration time volved in Paranal and Garching. The the queues for every scheduled service
and flux. The latter behaviour (together VLT is operated within the Data Flow period (Medium Term Schedule). The
with persistence effects) limits the abil- System (Quinn et al., 2000), and an material is then sent to Paranal a few
ity to use dark subtraction techniques overview of VLT science operations is days before the start of the service pe-
as in the visible, but rather encourages given in Gilmozzi et al., 2000. riod. The staff astronomer on duty then
one, as usual in the IR, to resort to sky- Operations in visitor mode only in- browses through the monthly queue
subtraction data-reduction techniques. volve Paranal, save for data archiving. and in real time during the night selects
• Some low level (1 to 2 e–) 50 Hz The high satisfaction of the visitors is in the programmes that can be executed.
pickup noise is occasionally seen, itself a demonstration of the effective- The selection is a human-based proc-
mostly visible in spectroscopy where ness of the Paranal Science Operation ess, and essentially relies on common
the background levels are the lowest. (PSO) scheme. sense, taking into account:
• The Hawaii array also shows fring- A specific aspect of the service- • The priority of the programme.
ing, with well-defined Fabry-Perot rings, mode operations is that the front and There are three categories of pro-
originating from the sapphire substrate back ends are in Garching (User grammes, from A to C, reflecting the
on top of the array. Although very sta- Support Group (USG) and Quality ranking given by the OPC. Class A pro-
ble, this fringing has a secondary ef- Control Group (QCG) from the Data grammes have the highest priority, and
fect, related to the reproducibility of the Management Division), Paranal Sci- all efforts are made to execute and
grating in spectroscopy. If the grating ence Operations (PSO) being at the complete them within the constraints
does not reproduce well between con- core of the chain. This chain therefore specified by the user.
secutive set-ups (even at the level of a includes persons from different Divi- • Distance to the Moon and phase of
fraction of a pixel), the fringing pattern sions, 12,000 km away, and working in the Moon constraints as specified by
will be slightly displaced, and will not different time zones. Keeping the infor- the user. In most cases, the constraints
flat field out perfectly, leaving some mation synchronised all along the on the Moon are irrelevant in the in-
residuals on the array. In order to cir- chain requires constant efforts, and frared. There are, however, 2 cases
cumvent this potentially limiting factor heavy e-mail traffic. where the Moon constraints are to be
for high S/N observations, we imple- The regular operations on Paranal taken into account: (i) distance to the
mented special procedures to take, if involve, at minimum, (i) one night as- Moon is too small, preventing active
deemed necessary, night-time spectro- tronomer per telescope performing the optics (performed in the optical) to
scopic flat fields at the end of the spec- observations in both visitor and service work, (ii) medium-resolution spec-
troscopic observations. modes, (ii) one day astronomer for 2 troscopy, with increased background
telescopes in charge of supporting the between the OH lines.
Long Wavelengths (LW) visitors, performing the daytime cali- • Air mass constraint as specified by
• Aladdin electrical ghosts. Like the brations, checking the data, and of the user.
Hawaii array, the Aladdin detector, or many other miscellaneous duties, (iii) • Seeing (understood as the actual
its associated electronics, also pre- one Telescope and Instrument Oper- image quality) constraint as specified
sents some electrical ghosts that are ator per telescope, (iv) one data-flow by the user. The seeing, as measured
being investigated. operator in charge of handling/packing by the Paranal Astronomical Site
• For still non understood reasons, the data and maintaining data flow op- Monitor (see e.g. Sandrok, 2000, or
there is a ‘scattering feature’ in the LW erations.
spectroscopic modes, generating scat- In service mode, the users interact astclim/paranal/asm) can vary during a
tered light depending on where the ob - with USG and prepare their Observa- night. The seeing variations, although
ject spectrum lies on the array. Until fur- tion Blocks (OBs) in advance at their dimmed in the IR, forces one to adapt
ther evaluation, the problem is simply home institute using the Phase II in real time the Short Term Schedule
circumvented by acquiring the target Proposal Preparation tool (P2PP). In during a night, and occasionally to
asymmetrically along the slit so as to addition, users provide readme files abort the running observations if the
avoid this scattering feature. and finding charts. The importance of user-specified constraints are not met.
• For the same reason as above re- carefully preparing this material cannot • Sky transparency constraint as
garding the reproducibility of the func- be overstated: imagine a long winter specified by the user (choices are pho-
tions, it is not desirable to move from night, when the astronomer on duty will tometric, clear, thin cirrus, thick cirrus).
imaging to spectroscopy during a night. typically work 15 hours per night, 10 • Time critical observations (e.g.
The objective wheel, bearing the 2 ob- nights in a row, execute up to 10 serv- Targets of Opportunity like Gamma
jectives in use in these LW modes, will ice programmes in a night, execute the Ray Bursts, Supernovae follow up,
not perfectly reposition, and hence af- Calibration Plan accordingly, check the monitoring programmes,...)
fect the calibrations that can be done at OBs, read the proposals and associat- • Status of a programme. Clearly, the
the end or beginning of night. ed material, perform the acquisitions, aim is to complete and finish pro-
start the observations and monitor grammes rather than starting them all.
3. Operations them all during their execution, check Since time allocated in service is
the pipeline reduced data, report on over-subscribed (for obvious reasons
3.1 General aspects their quality, while writing down in the intrinsic to service observations), this
night log everything happening for any criterion of choice is particularly impor-
ISAAC shares Antu with FORS1, a single executed OB, all of that not men- tant and calls for a timely preparation of
visible imager and multi-object spectro- tioning possible problems to deal with. the observations by the users..
graph. The observing time at Antu is In these conditions, the winning User • Persistence effects. The Hawaii ar-
therefore roughly split between FORS1 will be the one who has carefully pre- ray suffers from persistence effects
in dark time and ISAAC in bright time, pared his material and provided the when it is strongly illuminated (see sec-
pending the arrival of another instru- clearest explanations and finding tion 2.1). This prevents one from ob-
ment at the Nasmyth A focus. charts. Observations insufficiently pre- serving in Medium-Resolution Spec-
ISAAC is operated in service and vis- pared are usually returned to the User troscopy at low flux between the OH
itor modes with slightly more time allo- via the User Support Group, resulting lines after imaging of bright, saturated
cated in service mode. The full process in a waste of time for all, and reducing stars (e.g. acquisition of bright stan-
of data flow operation is performed by the chances for this programme to be dard stars for spectroscopy). This par-
an Instrument Operation Team, gather- executed. ticular problem has led us to enforce

rules regarding the brightness of the
In addition to executing the observa-
tions, Paranal Science Operations also
performs on-line quality control on the
service data: the executed observa-
tions are classified as “Completed with-
in constraints”, “Not completed within
constraints but should not be repeated”,
“Not completed within constraints and
should be repeated”. Note that this clas-
sification is usually done with ISAAC on
the pipeline reduced images, (see sec-
tion 3.5) or, if not available in case of
non supported templates, on the raw
images. The Quality Control Group in
Garching performs the final Quality Con-
trol on fully processed and calibrated
frames (see Amico & Hanuschik, 2000).
In visitor mode, the users interact ex-
clusively with Paranal Science Opera-
tions for the preparation and execution
of their observations, and may also re-
quest calibration frames maintained in
Garching. They arrive on site two days
in advance of their observing run, dis-
cuss the observation strategy and pre-
pare their Observation Blocks with the
daytime astronomer. They receive their
data as tapes or CD-Roms upon their
departure from Paranal the day follow-
ing their last night.

3.2 Exposure Time Calculator Figure 2: Illustration of the imaging pipeline. A full ISAAC frame resulting from a jitter se -
quence of 30 images corresponding to 1/2 hour integration on sky in the Ks filter. This is a
Exposure Time Calculators (ETCs) partial image from a public deep-imaging survey (Franx, 2000). This image is the raw image
have been developed for all modes of delivered in a fully automatic way by the pipeline at the telescope a few minutes after the ob -
operation of ISAAC, for imaging and servations were finished.
spectroscopy, SW and LW.
These exposure time calculators re- ‘AutoJitterOffset’ template, executes when the instrument is used at night),
flect the performance of the instrument. Object-Sky-Sky-Object sequences; the the calibrations are:
They include an accurate modelling of ‘GenericOffset’ template, allows the • Twilight flat fields in imaging, usual-
the sky emission and absorption, in- user to define any telescope offset se- ly 1 or 2 filter(s) per twilight (broad-
cluding the thermal background above quence either in sky or detector co-or- band only, the narrow-band twilight
2.0 µm. Note that we are currently dinates. Note that these templates are flats are performed as these filters are
working at compiling a Paranal atmos- constrained so that the Detector used).
pheric absorption spectrum, whereas Integration Time (DIT)and the filter are • Zero points of the night. At least one
the current spectrum used by the ETC fixed for the whole template. standard star is observed nightly in im-
comes from a model and is not accu- • Spectroscopy. The ‘AutoNodOnSlit’ aging for zero point determination.
rate in terms of depth of the atmos- template nods the telescope along the • Spectroscopic flat fields. They are
pheric features. slit between two positions separated by performed at the end of the night ac-
The ETC allows simulating objects of a throw defined, with the choice of ad- cording to the set-ups used during the
different spectral types (continuum, ditional jittering around each position of night. Flat fields are occasionally taken
black body, single emission line). It is the nod; the ‘GenericOffset’ template during the night.
the entry point to the Phase I Proposal allows to define any sequence of off- • Arcs. Same as spectroscopic flat
Preparation, and users are requested sets, along or perpendicular to the slit. fields. In most cases, arcs (at least be-
to use it beforehand to estimate the re- • LW templates combine telescope low 2.2 µm) are not needed for wave-
quired exposure time. nodding and chopping in both imaging length calibration, the OH lines provid-
These ETCs are available on line at and spectroscopy for a cancellation of ing in-situ references for this purpose the sky residuals left by the chopping. (see Rousselot et al., 2000, for a de-
Additionally, there is a variety of ac- tailed atlas of the OH lines measured
3.3 Templates quisition templates allowing one to with ISAAC).
move objects interactively to a particu- • Darks. They are taken with the
All observations are executed via lar position on the array, or to centre Detector Integration Times (DITs) used
templates. ISAAC is equipped with a them in the selected slit. Most of the ac- during the night.
variety of templates, providing for most quisition procedures rely on subtracting On a less frequent basis, other cali-
observing needs. Excluding the cali- an offset sky image. brations are performed, such as:
bration templates (flats, darks, arcs, • Star trace. A star is stepped along
etc.) the offered ISAAC templates are: 3.4 Calibration plan the slit, in imaging first, then in spec-
• Imaging. The ‘AutoJitter’ template troscopy for both Low and Medium res-
automatically generates a random In addition to the scientific observa- olutions. This is used to calibrate the
pattern of telescope offsets within a tions, calibrations are regularly per- distortion of the spectra as a position
box width that is defined; the formed. On a daily/nightly basis (only along the slit, and to calibrate the geo-

Figure 3: This figure illustrates the ISAAC spectroscopic
pipeline ‘AutoNodOnSlit’ template. This is the spectrum
of [OIII]5007/4959 in the z = 2.4 radio galaxy MRC 0406-
244. Left: raw image (Medium Resolution Spectroscopy),
showing the curved OH lines. Right: fully processed im -
age, showing how well ‘double’subtraction works. The OH
lines are perfectly subtracted, leaving on the image only
the photon shot noise. Bottom: extracted spectrum,
showing the variation of the noise where OH lines are

metrical transformation between imag- In imaging, the ‘AutoJitter’ template • Distortion correction in the spatial
ing and spectroscopy. is the most common template used. and spectral directions. In the spatial
• lllumination frame. A star is imaged The pipeline performs: direction, an input calibration file is
at different locations across the array, • Dark subtraction, flat fielding and needed. This file comes from another
allowing one to remove low-frequency bad pixel correction on each input im- routine which reduces and calibrates
variations which are not removed by age if requested. the ‘star traces’, i.e. the profile of the
using sky flats. • Running sky subtraction. N (user spectra across the array as a function
defined) images around each image in of the position along the slit. In the
3.5 Data Reduction – Pipeline the stack are filtered and averaged to spectral direction, the pipeline per-
produce a running sky which is then forms automatically a correction of the
Pipelines are supported for the most subtracted from each input image. slit curvature as measured on the OH
commonly used templates (non-‘gener- • Sky subtracted images are then lines in the input images. Conversely,
ic’ones). The ISAAC pipeline has been shifted and added. The offsets between an arc frame can be given as input for
developed as a library of C routines, images are either taken from the image the slit curvature correction.
which are available under the eclipse headers, as a user defined list, or auto- • Wavelength calibration from the OH
package (Devillard, 1997; see also matically found by cross-correlating lines automatically found in the input
http://www. The pack- frames. If offsets are provided, the images. Conversely, the wavelength cal-
age is also available for off-line data re- cross-correlation is run to refine them. ibration can be performed either from
duction. In the pipeline mode, the The input objects for the offset deter- an arc given as input frame, or from a
frames are classified with a data or- mination are either user defined, or au- model of the instrument dispersion.
ganiser as they are delivered from the tomatically found. The shift and add • Combination of A-B and B-A im-
instrument workstation to the pipeline process includes image resampling. ages within one cycle, based on the off-
workstation. Whenever a template has Various interpolation kernels are avail- set between A and B positions as re-
finished, the pipeline automatically able. ported in the image headers. This ‘dou-
starts reducing all frames belonging to • The final image is then averaged, ble subtraction’ perfectly subtracts out
the template, according to a pre-estab- with rejection. the sky line residuals present on indi-
lished recipe. Figure 2 illustrates the capabilities of vidual A-B or B-A images, thanks to the
The aim of these tools is not to pro- the imaging pipeline. This image is the slit curvature distortion correction that
vide in all cases ready to publish re- absolutely raw pipeline result obtained was done in the previous step.
sults. E.g., in spectroscopy, wave- at the telescope from a jitter sequence • Averaging with rejection of all dou-
length calibration is not as accurate as of 30 images, and shows how efficient bly subtracted frames belonging to the
it could be. In most cases, the users will the tool is in reducing data in fully au- template.
need to refine their wavelength calibra- tomatic manner. • Extraction of the brightest spectrum
tions. Still, these tools allow to gener- In spectroscopy (‘AutoNodOnSlit’ in the image. Optionally, a spectrum
ate reduced frames to be then template), the pipeline performs: can be extracted at some user-defined
analysed with other standard reduction • Dark subtraction, flat fielding and position.
packages (e.g iraf, midas), for e.g. bad pixel correction on each input im- Figure 3 illustrates the principle of
aperture photometry, accurate wave- age if requested. the spectroscopic pipeline.
length calibration, spectrum extraction, • Grouping and subtraction of images In addition to the above-mentioned
etc. within one AB or BA cycle. pipeline recipes for the scientific data,

the pipeline also performs a number of
tasks related to calibration: dark frame
creation and computation of the read-
out noise, creation of flat field frames
from twilight cubes, automatic compu-
tation of the imaging zero points, auto-
matic calibration of the spectroscopic
spatial distortions (star trace), automat-
ic computation of the response func-
tions in spectroscopy, etc.
The pipeline has many applications
on site, such as faint object identifica-
tion prior to spectroscopy, on-line qual-
ity control, etc. The pipeline is re-run off-
line in Garching by the Quality Control
Group to reduce the service data (and
all calibration data) prior to shipment to
the service users. The main difference
between the on-line and off-line ver-
sions running on the mountain and in
Garching is with the calibration data
(flat fields, arcs, darks, etc.) that are used.

3.6 Miscellaneous facts

After 18 months of operational expe-

rience, a few facts emerge.
• The Image Quality with ISAAC is
very frequently better than 0.6 arcsec,
and often below 0.4 arcsec. The latter
allows one to execute programmes in
service mode that require superb im-
age quality.
• The on-target overheads (i.e. ex-
cluding pre-setting operations) range Figure 4: Deep HDFS image from a public survey (Franx et al., 2000). Field is 2.5 2.5 arc -
from ~ 30% in imaging to less than 10% min. This is a combined image of HST I images and ISAAC Js (4.7 hrs) and K images (7.45
in spectroscopy. hrs). Limiting AB magnitudes are J ~ 26, Ks ~ 25.5 at 3 (see The Messenger No. 99, p. 20).
• The open shutter time as a fraction
of the night time varies from ~ 40% (im-
aging, many sources) to more than Operations and tools • Monitoring statistics. With the im-
80% (spectroscopy, few targets). • Finalise the LW pipeline. The pipe- plementation of the so-called QC1
line group in Garching is actively work- (Quality Control 1), it will become
4. Pending Issues ing at developing new recipes, this easier in the near future to log pa-
should be implemented very soon, both rameters measured by the pipeline
Nothing is perfect. We still have a on Paranal in pipeline mode and in (e.g. Image Quality, Background val-
few pending issues which are not en- Garching for data processing of the ues in imaging), monitor these param-
tirely satisfactory with ISAAC, and we service data. eters and their variations with external
will address them as time and re- • Spectrophotometric calibration of parameters (e.g. outside seeing, tem-
sources permit. standard stars in spectroscopy. So far, perature, etc.) and perform trend
we resorted to existing material avail- analysis.
Instrument and telescope able elsewhere. More compilation is • Reducing the number of calibra-
• Improvement of the positioning re- needed, as well as dedicated observa- tions. Within the execution of the
producibility of the cryogenic functions. tions if deemed necessary. Calibration Plan, we have been so far
• The polarimetric mode is for the
time being basically non operational.
This needs intervention on the instru-
• There is some vignetting in both im-
aging and spectroscopic modes, need-
ing to re-align the optical train.
• The image quality across the dis-
persion correction is not constant, de-
grading the highest spectral resolution
that can be achieved.
• Two filters need to be replaced.
• Residual pick-up noise with the
Hawaii array. Occasionally, some 50 Hz
pick-up noise pops up in spectroscopic
data, with so far no tool to get rid of it.
• The image quality in chopping
mode is not stable and occasionally ex-
hibits image elongation. This is under Figure 5: Example of an [OIII] line detection on a galaxy at redshift 3.2. The intensity of the
investigation. [OIII]/5007 is 7.10 –17 ergs s–1 cm–2. See Cuby et al., 2000, and Pettini et al., 2000.

very conservative regarding the ob- • Automatic generation of daytime has already provided a vast amount of
tainment of calibration frames. We are calibrations. Sequences of daytime cal- first-class scientific results. See Cuby,
aiming at reducing the number of ibrations are automatically generated 2000, for a presentation of some sci-
daytime calibration frames produced, at the end of the night, based on the entific results obtained in the past
e.g., the number of dark frames, usual- FITS header information of the images year. Figure 4 shows a partial image
ly not of very much use for data re- taken during the night. from a deep, wide-field public imaging
duction, still interesting to monitor in- • Miscellaneous material provided to programme carried out in service mode
strument performance like readout the users. Beyond the User Manual, we with image quality below 0.5 arcsec
noise. provide lists of standard stars, atlas of on the HDFS field, which is described
• LW operations resumed in June OH and arc lines (to be complemented in Franx et al., 2000. Figure 5 shows
2000 with a new detector. We are still soon by an atlas of atmospheric ab- a Medium Resolution spectrum of a
in a learning curve for optimising the sorption lines), library of available IR galaxy at redshift 3, illustrating the
operation and assessing the perform- spectra, etc. line detection capabilities between the
ance and the calibration needs of this • ETC. The ETC has proved to OH lines.
mode, in imaging and spectroscopy. be reasonably reliable in estimating
The difficulty is here to carry out this the performance of the instrument,
exercise while keeping the instrument and all major modes are now sup- References
fully operational. ported.
• Pipeline and Data Reduction Tools. Amico P., Hanuschik R., 2000, SPIE 4010
5. Main Achievements Most of the ISAAC modes and/or proceedings.
templates are supported by data re- Cuby J.G., Barucci A., de Bergh C., Em-
After almost 18 months of opera- duction tools, running in pipeline, fully sellem E., Moorwood A., Petr M., Pettini
tions, we believe that our main automatic mode on Paranal, and M., Tresse L., 2000, SPIE 4005 proceed-
available off-line for data reduction. ings.
achievements regarding ISAAC opera -
The usefulness of these tools cannot Devillard N., 1997, The Messenger No. 87.
tions are: Finger G., Mehrgan H., Meyer M., Moor-
• Template operations. All templates be overstated, both from the user point
wood A., Nicolini G., Stegmeier J., 2000,
seem to cover the main requirements of view and from the Paranal Op- SPIE 4005 proceedings.
from the users. Only in exceptional erations view. Reduced frames in im- Franx M., Moorwood A., Rix H.W., Kuijken
cases did we have to develop specific aging or spectroscopy allow to as- K., Röttgering H., van der Werf P., van
templates. The control system is pow- sess in real time the quality of the Dokkum P., Labbe I., Rudnick G., 2000,
erful and flexible enough that excep- data and determine whether the sci- The Messenger, No. 99.
tional requests (e.g. occultation) can ence goals of the observations are Gilmozzi R., Leibundgut B., Silva D., 2000,
usually be accommodated, provided reached. SPIE 4010 proceedings.
that this is anticipated long enough in With the forthcoming addition of Malhara T., Iwamuro F., Yamashita T., Hall
advance and iterated upon with Para- some more material for the LW channel D., Cowie L., Tokunaga A., Pickles A.,
nal staff. The philosophy adopted for in the next months, we believe that we 1993, PASP 105, 940–944.
are providing the user community with Moorwood A., Cuby J.G., Biereichel P., et
these templates was to hard wire as
a self-consistent set of tools and docu- al., 1998, The Messenger, No. 94.
many parameters as possible (e.g. de- Moorwood A., Cuby J.G., Ballester P., et al.,
tector readout mode), so as to limit the mentation allowing them to use ISAAC
1999, The Messenger, No. 95.
number of parameters to be defined by in the best of its capabilities for any par- Pettini et al., 2000, in preparation.
the users, and to simplify the calibra- ticular scientific observation. Quinn P., Albrecht A., Leibundgut B.,
tions. Grosbøl P., Peron M., Silva D., 2000,
• Calibration Plan. The calibration 6. Conclusion SPIE 4010 proceedings.
plan fulfils the needs for the calibration Rousselot, P., Lidman, C., Cuby, J.-G.,
of the instrument and of the science After its first year and a half of suc- Moreels, G., Monnet, G., 2000, A&A, 354,
data. cessful operation at the VLT, ISAAC p. 1134–1150.


Opening of the VLT Visitor Focus

ESO plans to open on 1 April 2002 a Visitor focus located at a Nasmyth Focus of UT3 (Melipal).

The Visitor Focus has been reserved to permit innovative observations by teams stand-alone instruments, free from a
substantial fraction of the requirements for fully automated VLT general-use instruments.

The instruments will be provided by institutes or consortia, and they can be temporarily mounted at the Visitor focus.
In addition, this could provide a powerful scientific/technical test bench for new instrumental concepts, eventually in-
corporated later in standard VLT instruments. The set of guidelines on how to propose and carry out this type of
observations can be found at:

Note that the side port of NAOS could also hold a small visitor instrument.

Interested parties should contact the VLT Programme Scientist (,

Instrumentation ( and Paranal (

The La Silla News Page
The editors of the La Silla News Page would like to welcome readers
of the sixteenth edition of a page devoted to reporting on technical up -
dates and observational achievements at La Silla. We would like this
page to inform the astronomical community of changes made to tele -
scopes, instruments, operations, and of instrumental performances that
cannot be reported conveniently elsewhere. Contributions and inquiries to this page from the community are
most welcome.

2p2 Team News

Personnel Movements structures are seen in roughly two- our telescope by many members of La
thirds of all cases when two flat-fields Silla Teams for Instrumentation, Optics,
In June we welcomed José Cortes (consecutive in time) are divided. Mechanics and Software. We are
and Mauricio Martinez to our Opera- Recent tests indicated some light grateful to all of them for their extensive
tions Team. José was previously a me- leakage from the sides of the camera, efforts.
chanical engineer with a local firm, while which has subsequently been made
Mauricio worked with the US Naval light tight. Observers who take dome WFI Data Characteristics
Observatory survey telescope at CTIO. flats are urged to compare them to
twilight flat-fields to verify their in- Team member F. Selman recently
Decontamination Monitoring tegrity. A full description of the post- calibrated some images from the WFI
Programme decontamination monitoring is posted camera in terms of their spatial and
on the 2p2 Team Web Pages at photometric qualities. The astrometric
In May we concluded our Deconta- solution he has derived for the cam-
mination Monitoring Programme at the 2p2T/E2p2M/WFI/documents/ era shows negligible change in pixel
Wide-Field Imager (WFI). This cam- Decontam/ . areas on the sky from centre to
paign was initiated in November 1999, edge of the mosaic. The colour terms
following dismounting of the dewar and Servicing of 2.2-m Telescope are stable compared to the chip to
cleaning of contaminants on the CCDs. chip variations seen in all filters.
The programme consisted of the week- In June, the 2.2-m telescope under- Variations result in photometric errors
ly collection and measurement of dome went a comprehensive servicing effort less than 1 per cent. In terms of the
flats in UBVRIZ. An analysis of those that saw improvement in many key ar- size of the colour terms, the best filter
frames found no decline in the sensitiv- eas of its performance. Micrometers appears to be R, followed by V, U, I,
ity of the CCDs, as had been seen dur- were installed in three locations on M1 and B. The zero points show sys-
ing 1999 before the cleaning episode. to see whether movements in M1 posi- tematic variations across all chips, of
None of the flat-fields obtained during tion are responsible for the astigmatism approximately 8 per cent (peak-to-val-
the 6 months of monitoring show a re- seen previously at large zenith dis- ley). This study is continuing with addi-
turn of the ring around the mosaic tances. The preload gearbox for the tional observations.
perimeter that is characteristic of con- right-ascension drive was serviced and
tamination. a replacement vacuum gauge was Upcoming Developments
Furthermore, a comparison of the ra- mounted in the CCD dewar. At the
tios for consecutive flat-fields in each of same time, a new version of the In the coming months, we are look-
B- and R-bands indicates no change in DAISY+ image acquisition software (v. ing forward to the commissioning of a
the relative sensitivity to a particular 1.0) was installed, tested and accept- new CCD in DFOSC at the Danish
colour. The original contamination ed. Elsewhere, software efforts con- 1.54-m. For the 2.2-m, development of
problem caused a diminished CCD re- centrated upon testing the first compo- the BOB observing interface by mem-
sponse in the blue and this is not seen nents of the BOB (Broker for Obser- bers of the La Silla Software and
now. vation Blocks) interface. An important Communications Team continues. The
A by-product of this analysis was the milestone in this was first movement of first completed version of this software
confirmation that dome flat-fields for the 2.2-m telescope using VLT-compli- will commence testing (and usage on a
the 2.2-m are quite often non-repro- ant commands. The five days of tech- trial basis) during the first few months
ducible. Both high- and low-frequency nical time saw a stream of activity on of Period 66, later this year.



An Optimal Use of Service Mode Observation
1Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di “Roma La Sapienza”, Italy; 2Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France;
3Observatoire de Paris, DEMIRM, France; 4Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, Toronto, Canada;
5Institut für Astrophysik und Extraterrestrische Forschung, Bonn, Germany; 6Max-Planck-Institut für

Astrophysik, Garching, Germany; 7Department of Physics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA;
8Service de Physique Théorique, C.E. de Saclay, France.

The measurement of weak gravita- directly related to the projected mass the measurement of the second mo-
tional lensing induced by large-scale density accumulated along a line of ment looks in particular an easy task
structures is one of the most challeng- sight. It turns out that in the weak lens- because in the weak lensing regime
ing programmes for imaging with ing regimes, the shear and the conver- the variance of the convergence is the
ground-based telescopes. The VLT, gence are linearly related. variance of the gravitational shear. So,
used in Service Mode, offers an excep- The analysis of the cosmic shear in principle it can be measured directly
tional technical configuration which in signal as function of angular scales from the measurement of ellipticities of
principle guarantees high-quality data (between 10 arcseconds to about one galaxies.
for demanding programmes. The first degree) has an important scientific po- The expected amplitude of the
attempt done in Period 63 turned out to tential for cosmology (see Mellier 1999; gravitational distortion is extremely
work very well and provides a re- Bartelmann and Schneider 2000 and small (the ellipticity induced by weak
markable data set on a short time-scale references therein). The cartography of lensing is only a few per cent) which
as well as first constraints on cosmo- the distortion field traced by lensed makes the observations among the
logical models. It demonstrates that the galaxies can be used to reconstruct the most challenging in optical astronomy.
VLT is a perfectly suited telescope for projected mass density and the shape Because this programme needs high
cosmic shear measurements. More- of the power spectrum of the dark mat- image quality, the HST seems well
over, when it is operated in service ter, without regard to the light distribu- suited to study cosmic shear. How-
mode, this is the most competitive tion. When these mass maps are ever, its small field of view cannot real-
ground-based tool which could make a cross-correlated with galaxy redshift istically survey many fields of view as
major breakthrough in the field. surveys, one can also probe the evolu- large as 10 arcminutes over a large
tion of the biasing as function of angu- fraction of the sky. In contrast, ground-
1. Introduction lar scale and its evolution with look- based telescopes can easily observe
back time. Moreover, the normalisation wide fields and are indeed efficient
At the beginning of 2000, four of the power spectrum and the cosmo- tools to carry out this type of surveys,
groups have announced the detection logical parameters can be inferred from provided the data fulfil the following
of a “cosmic shear” signal in deep field the second and third moments of the criteria:
images. Among those works, one re- gravitational convergence, 〈 2 ( )〉1/2 • high image quality in order to accu-
sulted of VLT observations we obtained and S3 ( ), which are also sensitive to rately measure shapes of very faint
on UT1/ANTU during its first year of op- cosmological models (Bernardeau et galaxies,
eration. These results produced a al. 1997): • deep observations in order to get a
strong excitement in the community high galaxy number density and to min-
who realised the fantastic interest of 〈κ2 (θ)〉1/2 ≈ imise Poisson noise on small angular
cosmic shear for cosmology. − n+2 (1) scales,
( )
θ 2
Light beams emitted by distant 0.8
0.01 σ8 Ω 1deg. z 0.75 • a large number of fields spread
s ,
galaxies can be altered by the gravita- over a large fraction of the sky, in order
tional field of groups, clusters or fila- and to minimise the field-to-field fluctua-
ments of (dark) matter they cross dur- S3 (κ) ≈ 40 Ω−0.8 z −1.35
s , (2) tions produced by cosmic variance,
ing their propagation through the uni- where σ8 is the normalisation of the • a homogeneous data set which
verse. The weak gravitational lensing power spectrum of density fluctuations, permits to obtain the shape of about
effects accumulated along a line of Ω the density parameter and zs the red- 100,000 galaxies observed in almost
sight result in a small distortion of the shift of the lensed sources1. Therefore, the same conditions and to measure
shape of background galaxies which by measuring these two quantities, one statistical quantities from a homoge-
can be observed on CCD images as a can recover Ω and the normalisation of neous sample,
correlated ellipticity distribution of the the power spectrum independently. which require an optimised design of
lensed sources (the cosmic shear). Setting aside the technical difficulties, the observing strategy. Unfortunately, it
The properties of these gravitational turns out that classical observing
lensing effects are characterised by an modes of ground-based telescopes are
anisotropic deformation (a vector, the 1This is the averaged redshift of the lensed
inefficient in providing large amounts of
gravitational shear, γ) and an isotropic sources. Since it is not necessary to get a precise data on a short time-scale. Experi-
rescaling (a scalar, the gravitational measure of it, one can get a reasonable estimate enced visitor observers are aware that
convergence, κ). The convergence is from photometric redshift of galaxies. weather conditions are never stable

metric stability is not critical for the
measurement of cosmic shear;
• image quality with seeing lower
than 0.8 arcsecond for all exposures.
From an observational point of view,
the request for images acceptable dur-
ing grey time and non-photometric
nights, with targets covering the whole
semester, eases the scheduling and
the set-up of the instrument. The see-
ing specification is also reasonable
when compared to the average seeing
on Paranal. Paradoxically, although
this programme looks very difficult to
implement on ground-based tele-
scopes in visitor mode, it can be easily
scheduled and completed by as-
tronomers in charge of service obser-
The preparation of the Observing
Blocks (OBs) of 6 × 50 observations
was also a new experience and a bit of
concern since no one prepared such a
Figure 1: Distribution on the sky of the 50 VLT fields. Continuous lines are for galactic lati - large number of targets before.
tudes b = 0, ±30, ±40, ±50, ±60, ±70. Contrary to the apparent distribution shown on this fig - Fortunately, we had experienced most
ure, the fields are not selected on a regular grid.
of the problems one year earlier, when
we expected to make these observa-
enough over a long period to succeed • a selection of fields, free of bright tions in service mode with the NTT. For
in a survey with demanding con- stars, over a large part of the sky in or- technical reasons this never happened
straints. The best strategy is probably der to provide targets for any period but we had to prepare our targets with
Service Mode, where observations are during the semester. We pre-selected a very first version of the Phase II
done by a staff of astronomers in 120 fields with no bright star or Proposal Preparation interface (P2PP)
charge of scheduling each night de- bright/big galaxies. Note that “empty which forced us to interact with the
pending on the weather conditions and fields” is not a good selection criterion User Support Group of the Data
the recommendations of the OPC. since it would bias the sample towards Division Management (DMD) in charge
When this mode is coupled with a very low-density regions instead of sam- of P2PP. In order to work closely with
large telescope and an instrument with pling the full mass range of structures the User Support Group, we prepared
high image quality like FORS1, the in the universe; the files at ESO in Garching, which
constraints enumerated above are no • observation in I-band in order to turned out to be the most efficient way
longer critical. In fact, this configuration keep the image quality as good as pos- to learn and to improve this interface
looks perfectly suited for a cosmic sible. Since we were informed that for survey cases. All our requests and
shear survey. FORS1 has no fringes with the com- the problems we faced were immedi-
mon broad band filter, I-band was the ately addressed and fixed very quickly
2. Selection and Observations best choice for the programme. The by the DMD. When Period 63 started,
of the Fields I-band also offers the possibility to ob- the improvements done in P2PP made
serve during grey or dark time; the preparations of the OBs an easy
In Period 63, we proposed to ob- • exposure time of 36 minutes per task. The final sample defined on the
serve 0.6 deg2 with FORS1 spread field, split in 6 × 6 minutes individual OBs is plotted in Figure 1.
over 2000 deg2 of the sky in order to frames. Each was offset in order to re- Observations were done between
measure the cosmic shear on many move bad pixels, cosmic rays, and to May and September 1999 with FORS1.
uncorrelated fields. Our scientific goals produce many different frames for the During the semester, we were continu-
were2 (1) the detection of cosmic shear master flat field.
on scales below 10 arcminutes, (2) the The total expo-
analysis of the variance of the gravita- sure time was
tional shear as a function of angular chosen in order
scale and (3) the acquisition of a very to reach I = 24.5
large number of fields in order to min- (5σ, 3 arcsec-
imise the noise contribution due to onds aperture)
cosmic variance. We were granted 32 for the lensed
hours in Service Mode and Priority galaxies. We
A (programme 63.O-0039A; PI: Mel- then expected a
lier). Our specifications were the fol- galaxy number
lowing: density of about
• observation of a sample of 50 40 arcmin–2 per
FORS1fields totalising an area of 0.6 field and an ef-
deg2, which is a minimum request in or- fective redshift
der to get a signal-to-noise ratio higher distribution with
than 3 on the cosmic shear signal; 〈z〉 P 1;
• observations
acceptable dur-
2 See a detailed description of our project ing non-photo-
DESCART at - metric nights,
english.html since the photo- Figure 2: Histogram of the seeing for the 50 final coadded fields.

ously informed on the status of the ob-
servations by monitoring the progress
of the observations on the ESO web
pages3. The comments made for each
observation provide some details on
the conditions with respect to our spec-
ifications, so we had a rather good idea
of the success of the programme prior
to proceed to thorough investigations
at the TERAPIX data centre at the
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (IAP).
The programme was completed in due
time by September 1999, and the
CD-ROMs containing the data were re-
ceived at IAP by the end of November

3. Analysis of VLT/FORS1 Data

Each image was overscan correct-

ed, bias subtracted and flatfielded with
a superflat computed with the expo-
sures taken during the same night. The
FORS1 images are read through four
ports readout, so we processed sepa-
rately the image subsets coming from
the four quadrants of the CCD. Then
we normalised the gain of each quad-
rant to obtain an image with a homoge-
neous background. Finally, we aligned
the six individual exposures to produce
the final stacked image. An example of
one of the 50 FORS1 fields is given in
Figure 3.
Figure 3: Final coadded image of a VLT field. In this case the FWHM of the stellar images is
At this stage, the images are ready
0.53 , the source density is 35.3 galaxies/arcmin 2, with a 6.5 6.5 field and with 67 unsat -
for weak lensing analysis. It consists in urated stars.
measuring the ellipticity of all galaxies,
correcting their apparent shape for the
atmospheric and optical distortions, a source to a gravitational shear. These stars, bright galaxies and satellite
and then recovering the lensing signa- tensors are complicated functions traces are also removed;
ture. which depend on the profile of the light 2. Star selection: we use a radius4
The corrections are done assuming distribution. They can be calculated di - vs. magnitude diagram to select un-
that the smearing and the circularisa- rectly from the image profiles. saturated stars (see Fig. 4). Note that
tion produced by the atmosphere and Both p and γ can be deduced from the stars in a given image have all
the instrument are small. Kaiser et al. the data. The former is determined the same radius given by the seeing.
(1995, hereafter KSB) have developed from the field stars, which are not Thus, in the diagram, they fall along
an efficient algorithm which expresses gravitationally distorted and which a thin vertical line (indicated by a
the linear corrections and permits to re- must be circular objects once corrected red arrow). In the example in Figure
cover easily the lensing signal. If one for atmospheric and instrumental ef- 4, their radius rh = 2 corresponds to
defines the ellipticity of the source as fects. On the other hand, if we assume a FWHM of 0.8 arcsec with a detector
function of the second moments of the that there is no preferred direction for having a scale of 0.2 arcsec per pixel.
image the intrinsic ellipticity of the sources The stars are selected along the cen-
(i.e. the galaxies), then the averaged tral domain of the thin vertical branch of
e= ( I11 – I 22 2I12
Tr(I) Tr(I) ) with
ellipticity of the sources is 〈esource〉 = 0,
and the mean shear at a given angular
the diagram where there is no confu-
sion with galaxies and no saturated
scale is stars;
Iij = d2 W ( ) i j ƒ ( ), 3. Fit of the stellar polarisability ten -
= 〈Pγ〉–1. 〈eobs – P smp〉 (5) sors: using stars, we map the PSF by
then the observed ellipticity can be fitting their shape over the CCD with a
expressed by the KSB formalism, where the average (and therefore its third-order polynomial;
variance) is computed over the angular 4. Shear estimate computation: us-
eobs = esource + P + Psmp (4) scale θ. ing the stellar fits, we compute Eq. 5 for
The selection of stars for PSF cor- all the sources;
where esource is the intrinsic ellipticity rection and the selection of galaxies 5. Source selection: finally, galaxies
of the source, Psm is the smear polaris - for the measurement of the gravity- are selected using the star/galaxy
ability tensor associated with the ef- induced ellipticity are obtained by the classification defined in SExtractor
fects produced by the anisotropic part following sequence (for details, see (Bertin & Arnouts 1996). All objects with
of the PSF, expressed by p, and Pγ is Figure 4 and van Waerbeke et al. ambiguous classification and close
the shear polarisability tensor which 2000): pairs of galaxies are removed from the
expresses the effect of the response of 1. Masking: on each image, we re- sample.
move the boundaries of the CCD as
well as the central cross delineating 4The radius is defined as the radius of stars
63O0039A.html the four quadrants. Areas around bright which includes half the flux, rh.

Figure 4: The PSF correction procedure using the stars selected from the rh vs. mag. diagram. The bottom-left panel shows the ellipticity of
the stars before correction. The lines indicate the position, the elongation and the orientation of each object (this is an example, not a FORS1
field). The automatic identification of the stars is done using the rh vs. mag. diagram shown on the top-left panel. The stars can be easily
identified from their location along the vertical line. Using the stars, the PSFcan be estimated anywhere in the CCD, from which one can re -
cover the corrections to apply. The top-right panel shows the ellipticities of the uncorrected and corrected stars. We usually characterise the
shape of objects in the (e 1 = e cos (2 ), e2 = e sin (2 )) plane, where e is the amplitude of the ellipticity and the orientation with respect to
the horizontal axis. If the correction is well determined, the final distribution should be isotropic with respect to the central position of the pan -
el. The bottom-right panel shows the shape of the stars, once corrected, on the CCD.

In Figure 5 we plot the star elliptici- and assuming 50% of good weather In Figure 6 we plot our results to-
ties for all VLT fields before and after condition (clear night and seeing below gether with the recent measurements
the PSF correction. The procedure 0.8″), one would need about 25 of other cosmic shear surveys. Note
works very well, except for a few cases nights... the remarkable agreement between
which correspond to fields where the the results of the VLT and the results of
image quality is far from our specifica- 4. Cosmology with Cosmic other programmes conducted with dif-
tions (seeing significantly altered by Shear ferent observational strategies and dif-
strong wind). We ended up with 45 ferent instruments. This is a strong in-
fields with in average 60 stars/field (a For each final corrected image, we dication that the signal is of cosmolog-
minimum of 20 and a maximum of computed the variance of the shear, ical nature and not produced by sys-
120) and a total number of 58,700 〈γ2〉, using a top-hat window function tematic effects.
galaxies for 1900 arcmin2, that is ~ 31 with angular diameter varying from one Prediction from different cosmo-
galaxies/arcmin2 and 1300 galaxies/ to five arcminutes. Then we averaged logical models are also plotted in the
field. It is worth noticing that 45 of 50 〈γ2〉 over the 45 fields. In this way we figure. The joint use of all the data
fields turn out to be very good for the can associate an error to the value of sets puts very tight constraints on
cosmic-shear analysis, which means 〈γ2〉 at a given angular scale θ. It is im- the shear amplitude on those scales,
that the efficiency of the programme in portant to stress that with 45 fields, we in particular with respect to theoret-
service mode is 90% after 32 hours of also have a fairly good estimate of the ical expectations of the COBE-nor-
service observing. For comparison, in field-to-field fluctuation produced by malised standard CDM, which is ruled
visitor mode on a 4-metre telescope the cosmic variance. out at a 5-σ confidence level. This ex-

ample illustrates the potential of cos-
mic shear for cosmology. The data fit
also most popular models, in particular
in the range 2–10 arcminutes, where
the averaged signal obtained by the
various surveys provides a cosmic
shear amplitude with very high signal-
to-noise ratio. We are indeed very
close to be able to constrain also these
The observations done with ANTU
provide many more random fields than
any other cosmic shear surveys done
so far, which for the first time permits to
beat the noise distribution generated
by the cosmic variance. However, the Figure 5: Star ellipticities before (at left) and after (at right) the PSFcorrection, for all the 45
errors are still too large to give precise selected VLT fields. A good PSFcorrection implies a zero mean value for e 1 and e2 with small
estimates for the cosmological param- symmetric deviations.
eters and for the normalisation of the
power spectrum of primordial density
fluctuations. Only a larger amount of This is a much more difficult project easily cover degree-scale fields and
data will allow to reach this important which in particular demands to map provide superb data for cosmic shear, if
goal. We have simulated the amount of angular scales up to few degrees the survey is carried out in service
data one would need in order to in- (Figure 6 shows that beyond 10 ar- mode.
crease the signal-to-noise ratio by a cminutes there are discrepancies be-
factor of 3. It turns out that with 300 tween the surveys, which express that Acknowledgements
FORS1 fields obtained in service mode the signal is very weak). This is beyond
(that is 250 more fields than what we the reach of FORS1 which has a rather We thank the team in charge of the
got, or 160 hours) we could separate small field of view. But the WFI at the service observing at the VLT for per-
the three other models plotted in Figure 2.2-m and maybe VIMOS on UT3, are forming the observations for us and
6. This number of fields can be reduced excellent instruments for such a proj- the DMD for its help to produce the
to 150 if we use jointly the CFHT data ect. The image quality and perform- 300 OBs with P2PP. We thank the
and the other surveys going on at oth- ance of VIMOS for a weak lensing sur- TERAPIX data centre for providing
er telescopes. vey will be known this fall5. If the tests its facilities to process the FORS1
On a longer time-scale, the ob- are positive, then this instrument could data. This work was supported by the
servation of weak gravitational distor- TMR Network “Gravitational Lensing:
tion of galaxies will be used to recon- New Constraints on Cosmology and
struct the power spectrum of the dark 5see http.// the Distribution of Dark Matter” of the
matter up to 100 Megaparsec scales. for preliminary tests. EC under contract No. ERBFMRX-

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submitted (2000).
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press (2000).
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Y., Astr. & Astrophys. 322, 1 (1997).
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Figure 6: Summary of cosmic shear measurements plotted as function of the angular scale
. The work described here is referred to as MvWM+ (Maoli et al. in preparation; see Maoli
et al. 2000), the other results are from van Waerbeke et al. 2000 (vWME+), Kaiser et al. 2000
(KWL), Bacon et al. 2000 (BRE) and Wittman et al. 2000 (WTK+). Some predictions of cos -
mological models are also plotted, assuming sources at zeff = 1. The solid line corresponds
to CDM, with m = 0.3, = 0.7, = 0.21; the dot-dashed line corresponds to COBE-nor -
malised SCDM; the dashed line corresponds to cluster-normalised SCDM and the dotted line
corresponds to cluster-normalised Open CDM with m = 0 .3.

VLT/ISAAC Images of Quasar Hosts at z ~ 1.5
R. FALOMO, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy
J. KOTILAINEN, Tuorla Observatory, Finland
A. TREVES, Università dell’Insubria, Como, Italy

1. Introduction (PSF) that greatly helps to increase the vations were controlled by an auto-
contrast of the host light superposed to matic template (see Cuby 2000), which
Our present knowledge of quasar the nucleus. produced a set of frames slightly offset
host galaxies is essentially limited to z Moving to high redshift makes the in telescope position from the starting
< 1. Fundamental data come specifi- optical light of the nucleus even point. The seeing was excellent during
cally from observations obtained using brighter with respect to the galaxy the observations, resulting in stellar
both Hubble Space Telescope (HST, because of the different intrinsic spec- FWHM of 0″. 50, 0 ″. 41 and 0″.38 in the
e.g. Disney et al. 1995; Bahcall et al. tral distributions of host and nucleus fields of PKS 0000-177, PKS 0348-120
1997; Boyce et al. 1998; McLure et al. while the host galaxy becomes also and PKS 0402-362, respectively.
1999) and ground-based 4-m-class tel- progressively fainter because of the In order to determine the amount of
escopes (e.g. McLeod & Rieke 1994, cosmological dimming of the surface extended emission around the qua-
1995; Taylor et al. 1996; Kotilainen, brightness. sars, one needs to perform a detailed
Falomo & Scarpa 1998; Hutchings et In order to cope with these prob- study of the PSF. The relatively large
al. 1999; Kotilainen & Falomo 2000; lems, one needs to obtain observa- field of view of ISAAC (~ 2.′5) allowed
Percival et al. 2000). tions in the NIR with high efficiency and us to perform a reliable characterisa-
Present data indicate that radio-loud good resolution capabilities. In spite of tion of the PSF. For each field, we
quasars (RLQ) are almost exclusively its superior spatial resolution, HST, with analysed the shape of many stellar pro-
found in galaxies dominated by the its relatively small throughput with re- files and constructed a composite PSF,
bulge (spheroidal) component. These spect to the 8–10-m ground tele- whose brightness profile extends down
luminous ellipticals exceed by ~ 2–3 scopes, may fail to detect faint extend- to H = 24.5 mag arcsec–2. This war-
mag the typical galaxy luminosity (M*H ed emission with reasonable exposure rants a reliable comparison between
~ –25; Mobasher, Sharples & Ellis times. Eight-metre-class telescopes, the luminosity profile of the quasars
1993), and are close to the brightest like the VLT with ISAAC, combine high and of the stars without requiring ex-
cluster galaxies (MH ~ –26; Thuan & throughput and (during good seeing trapolation of the PSF. The shape of
Puschell 1989). For radio-quiet qua- conditions) sufficiently narrow PSF to the PSF profile was found to be stable
sars (RQQ), the situation is less clear, detect and study the underlying nebu- across the field of the images (see
with both types of hosts found. losity of quasars. Further improve- Figure 1).
The characterisation of the proper- ments are expected to come from the For each quasar, we have derived
ties of the galaxies hosting the most common use of adaptive optics (see the azimuthally averaged fluxes ex-
luminous active nuclei is traditionally e.g. Hutchings et al. 1999) on large tel- cluding all regions around the quasars
hindered by the presence of the very escopes. contaminated by companion objects.
bright nucleus that outshines the faint In this report we present the re- This procedure yielded the radial lumi-
starlight from its host galaxy. Significant sults of a pilot study aimed at investi- nosity profile out to a radius where the
improvements for the detection and the gating high z quasar hosts of a sample signal became indistinguishable from
study of the surrounding nebulosities of radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars the background noise (typically µ(H) ~
have been obtained with the use of with redshift 1.0 < z < 2.0, and –25.5 < 24 mag arcsec–2, reached at ~ 2″ dis-
CCD detectors on large telescopes and MV < –28. High-resolution images, ob- tance from the nucleus). Modelling of
with a “narrow” point spread function tained with the VLT and ISAAC of three the luminosity profile was then carried
RLQs at z ~ 1.5 are shortly discussed out using an iterative least-squares fit
(see Falomo, Kotilainen and Treves to the observed profile, assuming a
2000 for more details). We use H0 = 50 combination of a point source (PSF)
km s–1 Mpc–1 and q0 = 0. and an elliptical galaxy convolved with
the proper PSF.
2. Observations, Data Analysis, Absolute magnitudes have been
and Results from Individual K-corrected (at this z K-corr is < 0.2
Objects mag in H), using the optical-NIR evolu-
tionary synthesis model for elliptical
NIR H-band (1.65 µm) images of the galaxies (Poggianti 1997).
quasars were obtained at Paranal, us- In Figure 2, we show the final im-
ing ISAAC (Infrared Spectrometer And ages of the three quasars together
Array Camera; Moorwood et al. 1998) with their PSF -subtracted images. The
mounted on the VLT unit telescope PSF scaling factor was adjusted in or-
ANTU (UT1). The SW arm of ISAAC is der to prevent strong negative values in
equipped with a 1024 × 1024 px Hawaii the few central pixels of the residual im-
Rockwell array, with pixel scale 0 ″. 147 age. Although this method tends to
px–1, giving a field of view 150 × 150 over-subtract the point source, it gives
arcsec (corresponding to ~ 1.8 Mpc at us a model-independent way to ana-
z = 1.5). The observations were per- lyse the surrounding nebulosity. After
formed in service mode during the nights subtraction of the scaled PSF, two out
Figure 1: The azimuthal averaged bright -
of 20 and 21 October 1999. Each of the three quasar images exhibit
ness profiles of stars in the field of PKS
0402-362 compared with the PSF model quasar was observed for a total inte- clearly extended emission and suggest
used. The seeing in this frame (UT1+ gration time of 1 hour using a jitter pro- the presence of knotty structure. For
ISAAC, 1 hour total integration, H filter) is cedure and individual exposures of 2 one quasar (PKS 0402-362), only mar-
0.38 . minutes per frame. The jittered obser- ginal extended emission is detected.

Figure 2: H-band images of the three quasars before (top) and after (below) subtraction of a scaled PSF (see text). From left to right: a), b)
PKS 0000-177, c), d) PKS 0348-120 and e), f) PKS 0402-362. The full size of the images in each panel is ~ 17 . North is to the top and east
to the left. The inset in panel c) shows the result of a deconvolution of the image. The inset in the panel d) yields a different grey-scale of
the central portion of the PSF subtracted image in order to enhance the knot structure.

PKS 0000-177 (z = 1.465) is located direction. A resolved companion galaxy

at ~ 4″ NW from a m H ~ 14.5 mag star (G1) with mH = 20.5 lies at 2.″2 NE from
which, although well separated from the quasar. The projected distance of
the quasar, has been subtracted from this galaxy, if at the redshift of the
the final image to avoid confusion. In quasar, is 27 kpc. Other fainter galax-
our H-band image (Fig. 2a), the QSO ies, G2 and G3 respectively (mH = 21.1
appears round and compact with a and mH = 22.2), are located at 3.″2 (39
companion object (mH = 20.3) at 1.″8 kpc) SW, and at 3.″9 (43 kpc) W of the
SW. After removing this companion, we quasar.
note faint “arc-like” structures to the NE From fitting the radial brightness pro-
and SW at ~ 1.″5 from the nucleus. After file (Fig. 3) we obtain a very luminous
subtraction of a scaled PSF at the po- (MH = –27.6) and compact (Re = 4.9
sition of the quasar nucleus (Fig. 2b), kpc) host galaxy. The profile is not
some extended nebulosity is clearly smooth, suggesting the presence of
detected together with a faint knot at ~ substructures in the host that are re-
0 ″. 6 E of the nucleus. After masking the vealed in the PSF subtracted image. A
companion, 1.″5 SW of the nucleus, we knot at 0.″7 (8.6 kpc) from the nucleus
derived the brightness profile (Fig. 3) along the direction of G1 is visible in
that exhibits a significant excess over Figure 2d. This feature is clearly seen
the PSF, starting at ~ 1″ (12 kpc) radius in the deconvolved image of the quasar
from the nucleus. Model fit of the pro- (see inset in Fig. 2d) using a Lucy-
file yields MH = –27.4 and effective ra- Richardson algorithm implemented in
dius Re ~ 3.5 kpc for the elliptical host. IRAF (Lucy 1991) with 15 iterations.
Assuming the redshift of the compan-
ion is that of the quasar, the projected
distance of the companion galaxy is ~
21 kpc while its absolute magnitude is
Figure 3: The observed radial brightness
MH = –25.8.
profiles in the H band of the three quasars
PKS 0348-120 is a flat-spectrum ra- (filled squares), superimposed to the fitted
dio quasar at z = 1.520 (Wright et al. model consisting of the PSF (short-dashed
1983). The H-band image of the quasar line) and the elliptical galaxy (long-dashed
(Fig. 2c) is clearly extended and elon- line). The red solid line shows the total mod -
gated approximately along the NE-SW el fit.

With the present data, it is not possible The luminosities of the host galaxies redshift of the quasars (e.g. Heckman
to clarify the nature of this circumnu- of our three RLQs are very similar to et al. 1984; Ellingson et al. 1994;
clear emission knot. Most likely, it is those of high-redshift 6C radio galaxies Canalizo & Stockton 1997). These
another small companion galaxy pro- (RG) studied by Eales et al. (1997). In companions are often taken as evi-
jected onto the envelope of the quasar their Hubble diagram, RGs at z ~ 1.5 dence for interactions with the host
host. have K-band magnitude ~ 18.5, while and possible trigger of the nuclear ac-
PKS 0402-362 is at about the same we find < m K(host) > ~ 18.3 (assuming tivity but their effective role on the
redshift (z = 1.417) as the other qua- H–K = 0.2). The similarity with high z QSO phenomenon is far from being
sars in this study, but the nucleus RGs is also supported by the knotty understood.
is ~ 2 mag brighter. The H-band image structure observed in the hosts of two
of this quasar is shown in Figure 2e. of the quasars and in the density of
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Type Ia Supernovae, Cosmology and the VLT
C. LIDMAN, European Southern Observatory, Santiago, Chile
A. GOOBAR, University of Stockholm
R. PAIN, LPNHE, CNRS-IN2P3 and University of Paris VI & VII

1. Type Ia Supernovae and The SNe are discovered by ob- 3.6-m has been used to follow over
Cosmology serving blank fields over two epochs, 60 high redshift type Ia SNe. Now,
which are separated by about three with both groups finding more distant
Over the last decade, two interna- weeks. The fields are observed before SNe (z P 1), the photometry is done
tional teams have used the magnitude- and after full moon. In this way, the either from space with HST or with the
redshift relation of type Ia supernovae SNe are discovered while still bright- largest ground-based telescopes, such
(SNe) to measure the mass density ening (Perlmutter et al. 1995), and as the VLT.
ΩM and the cosmological constant ΩΛ follow-up observations can start dur- With the VLT now in operation and
of the universe. Both teams, using ing the following new moon. A final pho- with other large 8-m telescopes coming
largely independent data sets and in- tometric point is taken after the SNe on line, it is perhaps timely to review
dependent analysis methods, reach has faded, which is usually one year how these telescopes can contribute to
the conclusion that the cosmological later. the study of type Ia SNe, not only in
constant is non-zero and that the ex- The confirmation of the SN type has terms of measuring the cosmological
pansion of the universe is accelerating mostly been done by obtaining low- parameters but also measuring the
(Riess et al. 1998, Perlmutter et al. resolution spectra with the Keck 10-m evolution of type Ia properties as a
1999). telescope, but about 10 type Ia SNe function of redshift.
These results were derived from ob- have been confirmed from spectra
servations of 56 distant type Ia SNe, taken with 4-m-class telescopes, such 2. VLT Observations of a Type Ia
spanning a redshift range from z = 0.16 as the MMT and the ESO 3.6-m. As SN at z = 0.54
to z = 0.97. The mean redshift of the an example, the spectrum of SN 1997L
combined sample is around z = 0.5. In (z = 0.55), which was observed with Discovering type Ia SNe beyond z =
what is an excellent example of inter- EFOSC1 on the ESO 3.6-m, is shown 0.3 is now routine and both groups
national collaboration, the observations in Figure 1. combined have now observed over 100
have been taken with 13 different tele- Up until 1998, the photometric mon- such SNe. The SNe are discovered by
scopes spread over 7 different sites in itoring was mostly done with 4-m-class using the largest wide field imagers
both the Northern and Southern telescopes, including the ESO 3.6-m available on 4-m-class telescopes.
Hemispheres. telescope and the ESO NTT. The ESO Both the BTC camera on the 4-m
Blanco Telescope in Chile and the
CFH12k on the CFHT in Hawaii have
been used to discover distant type Ia
During our most recent run on the
CFHT, we discovered a type Ia SNe
well before maximum light. This SNe,
which we nicknamed Beethoven1, has
a redshift of z = 0.54, which is similar to
the mean redshift of all the SNe that
have been used to conclude that the
universe is accelerating. A preliminary
analysis of our data on SN Beethoven
suggests that the CFHT discovery im-
age was taken 14 days (in the rest
frame of Beethoven) before maximum,
and that the spectrum subsequently
taken with FORS1 was taken 12 days
before maximum. The early discovery
of Beethoven enabled us to plan and
execute relatively high signal-to-noise
ratio target of opportunity observations
with FORS1 and ISAAC with the aim of
testing whether SN Beethoven is a nor-
mal type Ia SNe or not.
The observations with FORS1 on
ANTU (UT1) were done on May 12,
2000. The observing conditions were
very good, with a mean seeing of
0..55″ and a clear sky. We used FORS1

1 We give a temporary name, for use within the

team, to every candidate we find during a cam-

paign. This time the names were composers.
Once a SN candidate has been confirmed, we
write an IAU circular and an official name is given
Figure 1: An unsmoothed spectrum of 1997L taken with EFOSC1 on the 3.6-m. to the SN following the IAU nomenclature.

IR observations provide a longer wave-
length baseline to test for the presence
of near-grey dust. They also provide a
test which is not accessible at optical
wavelengths. In the I-band, nearby
SNe exhibit a second maximum ap-
proximately one month after the first.
For SNe at z P 0.5, this second maxi-
mum occurs in the near-IR and has
been observed in SN 1999Q (Riess et
al. 2000).
The images from individual epochs
and an image that combines all three
epochs, which totals almost 10,000
seconds of integration time, are shown
in Figure 3. SN Beethoven, which is
marked by the arrows, is visible, with
moderate signal-to-noise, about 1 arc-
sec away from the host galaxy. The
FWHM of the star images in the final
frame is 0.55″.
From a visual inspection of the im-
ages, it can be seen that at 32 days af-
ter the first maximum SN Beethoven is
still visible with approximately the same
intensity as it had at 16 days after max-
imum. However, at this preliminary
stage of the analysis it is not clear if this
is consistent with a second maximum
or if a plateau better describes the ob-

3. The Near Future: the Role of

Figure 2: An unsmoothed spectrum of SN Beethoven (z = 0.54) taken with FORS1 on ANTU the VLT
UT1. The signal-to-noise ratio of the SN Beethoven spectrum is six times larger than the sig -
nal-to-noise ratio of the spectrum of 1997L. The use of type Ia SNe as standard
candles has led to the proposition that
the universe is dominated by an un-
in long-slit mode and with the 300 V very good, with a median seeing of 0.6″ known form of dark energy, which is
grism. The total integration time was and clear skies. most commonly interpreted as a
two hours. There are two reasons for observing non-zero cosmological constant and
The spectrum of SN Beethoven is moderately distant type Ia SNe with that, at the present epoch, the expan-
shown in Figure 2. The signal-to-noise near-IR instruments such as ISAAC. As sion of the universe is accelerating.
ratio is around 10 per pixel (2.6Å) or 20 discussed by Riess et al. (2000), near- This is revolutionary and it is important
per resolution element (which is 5 pix-
els and corresponds to the width of the
slit). This is an exceptionally high sig-
nal-to-noise ratio for a SN at z = 0.54
and it allows us to clearly see that SN
Beethoven is a type Ia that was ob-
served about a week (rest frame) be-
fore maximum light.
A comparison with spectrum SN
1997L in Figure 1 shows the dramatic
improvement in the signal-to-noise ra -
tio. Both SNe have similar redshifts
and both have been observed about
one week before maximum light. The
VLT clearly allows us to make the
transition from qualitative statements,
such as “It looks like a SN Ia”, to quan-
titative measurements of line strengths
and comparisons with nearby SNe.
SN Beethoven was also observed
with ISAAC on three separate occa-
sions, which approximately correspond
to the epoch of maximum light, and to
16 and 32 rest frame days after maxi-
mum light. SN Beethoven was ob- Figure 3: In the top row, a series of ISAAC images taken at different epochs. SN Beethoven
served with the Js filter, which, in SN is indicated by the arrows. In these images, North is down and East is to the right. FWHM of
Beethoven’s rest frame, corresponds star images, 0.55 arcsec. The combined image is shown in the bottom row. To get an accu -
to the I-band. The conditions at the rate measure of the underlying flux of the galaxy, a fourth and final image will be taken one
time of the observations were again year from now.

to make sure that the observed dim- determination of ΩM and ΩΛ separate- for the next generation of IR instru-
ming of type Ia SNe with z is not ly and of the equation of state of the ments that use adaptive optics, like
caused by evolution, which has been dark energy. NAOS and CONICA, which will be in-
the downfall of all standard candles to However, follow-up observations of stalled on the VLT next year.
date, nor by grey dust. type Ia SNe at z P 1 are both difficult In the meantime, the VLT will contin-
We can test this proposition by con- and time consuming. At these redshifts, ue to be used to confirm and follow up
ducting an intense optical and IR study the restframe B-band, where the light- type Ia SNe at more moderate red-
of a dozen type Ia SNe at z = 0.5, the curve of type Ia SNe are best under- shifts, z P 0.8. Its performance will be
redshift at which the acceleration of the stood, is shifted into the near-IR, where strengthened further if the planned up-
universe was derived. As we have the sky background from the ground is grade of FORS2 with red sensitive
demonstrated with SN Beethoven, the relatively high. The R-band, where the CCDs goes ahead.
VLT, with ISAAC and the two FORS in- background is more favourable, corre-
struments, is well suited to contribute sponds to restframe U. But observa- 4. Acknowledgements
significantly to this necessary work. tions of nearby type Ia SNe in the rest-
Both groups of observers are now frame U-band are scarce and their The authors thank Peter Nugent,
regularly finding SNe at redshifts of or- properties in that band are not yet ac- Bruno Leibundgut and Jason Spyro-
der one, and with instruments like VI- curately known. It is not clear, at pres- milio for their critical review of the man-
MOS on UT3 becoming available soon, ent, whether from U band observations uscript.
the number of such SNe will increase. alone type Ia SNe can be used as dis-
With VIMOS, it will also be possible to tance indicators.
detect lensed (highly magnified) SNe at SN Beethoven, at a redshift of z = References
even higher redshifts. 0.54 and SN 1999Q at a redshift of
Perlmutter et al. 1995, in Thermonuclear
At z P 0.5, type Ia SNe can only be z = 0.46 (Riess et al. 2000) have both Supernovae, ed. P. Ruiz-Lapuente, R.
used to place joint limits on ΩM and ΩΛ. been successfully observed with state- Canal & J. Isern (NATO ASO ser. C, 486)
They cannot be used to test whether or of-the-art infrared instrumentation on (Dordrecht: Kluwer), 749.
not the universe is flat. However, with a the largest telescopes. Near-IR follow- Perlmutter et al. 1999, ApJ, 517, 565.
relatively small sample of SNe at z P 1, up observations of type Ia SNe at z P Riess et al. 1998, AJ, 116, 1009.
one can very significantly improve the 1 and beyond will probably have to wait Riess et al. 2000, ApJ, 536, 62.

Lensed Quasars: A Matter of Resolution

1PontificiaUniversidad Católica de Chile, Departamento de Astronomía y Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile
2European Southern Observatory, Santiago, Chile; 3Institut d’Astrophysique de Liège, Liège, Belgium
4Astronomical Observatory, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
5Laboratoire d’Astrophysique, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France

1. Lensed Quasars multiply imaged quasars to constrain perform in a routine manner observa-
cosmological parameters. As the travel tions which were impossible only 10
The interest in studying lensed times of photons along the light path to years ago. As an illustration of this, we
quasars amongst the astronomical each quasar image are different, an present in this report recent VLT
community has always been some- intrinsic intensity variation of the FORS2 observations of HE 1104-1805,
what fluctuating. Periods of great en- quasar is seen at different moments a doubly imaged quasar at z = 2.319
thusiasm and of profound disappoint- in each lensed image. The so-called discovered in the framework of the
ment have regularly followed one an- time delay between the detection of the Hamburg-ESO survey for bright
other. intensity variation in each image is quasars (Wisotzki et al. 1993). The
Precisely described in the context of directly related to the cosmological pa- choice of HE 1104-1805 is not intend-
Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, rameter, H0 and to the position and ed to be representative of the impor-
the phenomenon of light deflection was shape of the deflecting mass. One tance of this particular object, but
first seen as a pure theoretical curiosi- can therefore infer an estimate of H0 rather reflects how old observationally
ty. It was however observed by Dyson by measuring the time delay, provided intractable problems can be tackled in
et al. (1920), who measured, during a the gravitational potential responsible a new way. We also present more re-
total solar eclipse, the angular dis- for light splitting is known. Conversely, cent results, obtained at the 1.54-m
placement of a star by the sun’s gravi- one might as well want to assume a Danish telescope for another Hamburg-
tational field. Gravitational lensing was “preferred” value for H0 and use the ESO quasar: HE 2149-2745.
thus established as an observed phe- time delay to constrain a lens model,
nomenon, but the next important ob- i.e., to study the mass distribution in
servational step was not made until distant lens galaxies. Both issues are 2. The First Step:
1979, with the discovery by Walsh et al. undoubtedly of capital importance. The Lens Geometry and
of the first lensed quasar, which had an They both require high spatial resol- the Time Delay
angular separation of 6 arcsec be- ution observations. With the Hubble
tween the two components. On the the- Space Telescope (HST) or, better, with Resolving the blended images of
oretical side, Refsdal (1964) proposed, large ground-based telescopes located multiply imaged quasars is one way to
well before Walsh’s discovery, to use in privileged sites, it is now possible to confirm or rule out their lensed nature.

Figure 1: AJ-band image of HE 1104-1805 obtained at the ESO/MPI 2.2-m telescope with IRAC2b (Courbin et al., 1998). The seeing is about
0.8 arcsec and the pixel size is 0.28 arcsec. The middle panel shows a deconvolved version of the image, with a resolution (FWHM) of 0.28
arcsec and clearly revealing the lensing galaxy. An HST H -band image obtained later (PI: Emilio Falco) is displayed on the right panel and
confirms the ground-based observation.

If each component of a system shows time delay was estimated to be 0.73 conditions, even during full moon or
the same colour, or even better the years. We are currently using the through thin cirrus, and very few
same spectral energy distribution, the Danish 1.54-m and the 3.5-m NTT to epochs have been missed. Loosing
quasar has a good chance of being monitor on a weekly basis almost all too many data points due to instru-
lensed. However, dust along the line multiply imaged quasars visible from ment scheduling or to excessively re-
of sight, microlensing, and even in- the Southern Hemisphere (PI: P. strictive observing constraints would be
trinsic variability of the quasar can af- Magain for ESO time, J. Hjorth for fatal. Therefore, all available data have
fect the spectral energy distribution of Danish time). been used, even those taken under
the components. Finding the faint The image quality is usually be- poor conditions.
lensing galaxy between the quasar tween 0.8 and 1.5 arcsec, which, with We would like to point out that none
images is a much more reliable cri- deconvolution, still allows accurate of this would have been possible with-
terion. We show in Figure 1, left pan- photometry of objects with angular out the excellent collaboration of the
el, the discovery image of the lens separations of less than 1 arcsec, 2.2-m and NTT teams and of the large
in HE 1104-1805 (Courbin et al. 1998). down to R ~ 19–20. One of the first re- number of visiting astronomers who
This J-band image was taken at the sults from this monitoring, the light performed observations for this pro-
ESO/MPI 2.2-m with IRAC2b, which curve for HE 2149-2745 (Lopez et al. gramme. We are extremely grateful to
by today’s standards has a relatively 1998) is shown in Figure 2 (Burud et all these people.
small field of view, 1 arc minute on a al. 2001). In this
side, with coarse sampling, 0.28 arc- case, the two im-
seconds per pixel. It is difficult to see ages of the qua-
the lens in this image. However, with sar at z = 2.03
deconvolution (Magain et al. 1998; are separated by
MCS) it can be detected at a dis- 1.7 arcsec.
tance of 1 arcsec from the bright The monitor-
quasar image (Fig. 1, middle). The ing data of HE
HST-NICMOS2 image obtained by 2149-2745 have
Lehar et al. 2000 in the H-band is been obtained
also displayed (Fig. 1, right). Com- during a wide va -
parison with the deconvolved image riety of observing
confirms not only the position of the
lens, but also its ellipticity and ori-
entation. The seeing at the time
the data were taken was 0.8″, which
is average for La Silla. With more
modern instrumentation and larger
telescopes one can do better. On
Figure 2: Example
Paranal, the seeing is often better of light curve ob -
that 0.5″ and the pixel scale of mod- tained at ESO in
ern detectors is usually of the order of the framework of
0.1″. the lens monitoring
The measurement of the time de- programme. These
lay itself remains challenging. Pre- light curves, for the
cise light curves with good temporal two quasar images
sampling have to be obtained for each of HE 2149-2745
(Burud et al., 2001)
component. It can take several years
have been constructed from data obtained at the 1.54-m Danish telescope under average
of continuous monitoring to obtain weather conditions. The red curve shows the variation of the brightest quasar image while
the time delay of a single lens. HE the green one corresponds to the fainter component, heavily blended with the lensing galaxy.
1104-1805 was spectrophotometrical- The shift in time between the curves is the time delay. The present data suggest a very rough
ly monitored at ESO for four years estimate of ~ 100 days. Future monitoring will provide a better measurement of the
by Wisotzki et al. (1998), and the delay.

Figure 3: The two-dimensional spectrum of HE 1104-1805 (Lidman et al., 2000). The image at the top is the spectrum of the lens after bias
subtraction, flat fielding, and sky subtraction, with the 2 quasar spectra separated by 3.14 arcsec. The image at the bottom is the spatially
deconvolved spectrum, with a (spatial) pixel size twice as small as in the original data (this is why the height of the deconvolved spectrum
is twice that of the raw spectrum). The lens galaxy, including the H and K bands and the 4000Å break, is clearly visible. The spatial resolu -
tion in this spectrum is 0.2 arcsec.

3. A Second, serving conditions were clear and the the two components, three slits were
More Challenging Step: external seeing varied between 0.5″ placed on field stars that were used to
Spectroscopy of the Lens and 0.9″. determine the PSF for the deconvolu-
We used the movable slits in the tion and to correct for telluric absorp-
Imaging the lensing galaxy is diffi- FORS2 focal plane to select targets tion, one slit was placed on a random
cult, but obtaining its spectrum is even and set the slit width. One slit was object and the remaining slits were
more so. Accurate modelling was placed on the lens and aligned along closed. Indeed, the final configuration
therefore often hampered by the lack of
the lens redshift. Lens galaxies are
heavily blended with the bright quasar
images and are often too faint for the
HST. The solution to the problem might
be, here again, to use good-quality
ground-based data. Using the spectro-
scopic version of the MCS deconvolu-
tion (Courbin et al. 2000a, Courbin et
al. 1999) and VLT data, we have ob-
tained a spectrum of the lensing galaxy
in HE 1104-1805 (Lidman et al. 2000)
and determined its redshift.
Apart from the many unpublished at-
tempts to measure it, the redshift of the
lens had been estimated from indirect
means. From IR and optical photome-
try, Courbin et al. (2000b) estimated a
redshift in the range z = 0.8 to z = 1.2.
From the time delay measured at the
ESO 3.6-m and a model of the lens,
Wisotzki et al. (1998) estimated a red-
shift of z = 0.79 and from the position of
the lens on the fundamental plane,
Kochanek et al. (2000) gave a redshift
of z = 0.73.
Given these redshift estimates, a
deep spectrum in the optical was
likely to settle the issue. The VLT
spectroscopic observations were taken
with FORS2 on Kueyen at the Cerro
Paranal Observatory on April 1, 2000
as part of ESO programme 65.0-
0566(A). The observations consisted of
three 1080-second exposures with the
G200I grism and the high-resolution
collimator. Figure 4: The spectrum of the lens in HE 1104-1805 (bottom). The major absorption lines are
identified with the vertical dashed lines. Also plotted, but at 1/20th of the scale, is component
This gives a scale of 0.1″ per pixel in
A of the quasar (top). The red line is a template of an elliptical galaxy shifted to z = 0.729
the spatial direction, which is excellent and not a smoothed version of the spectrum. The smoothed version of the spectrum has
for deconvolution purposes. The corre- been shifted vertically by 0.03 units for clarity. The H and K Calcium bands and the G band
sponding scale in the spectral direction are indicated. A strong sky line at about 6300 Å and introducing significant noise is also in -
is approximately 4Å per pixel. The ob- dicated.

course to improve the accuracy of the
observations for each individual sys-
tem. Until now, one reconstructs the
mass profile of the lens by probing the
gravitational potential at only 2 or 4 po-
sitions, i.e., the position of the quasar
images. Systems with more images are
probably extremely rare, so the only
way to use more constraints is to ob-
serve the distorted images of other ob-
jects behind the lensing galaxy. The
host galaxy of the lensed quasar is an
obvious candidate (e.g., Kochanek et
al. 2000). With the very high angular
resolution soon achievable with adap-
tive optics (AO) systems mounted on 8-
m-class telescopes, it will be possible,
in many objects, to see the quasar host
galaxy as a lensed ring, hence provid-
ing new constrains for the mass mod-
elling. Advanced multi-conjugate AO
systems will allow for similar resolu-
tions but on a wider field of view (about
1 arcmin) and with good PSF quality.
Small arclets, as presently observed in
lower-resolution observations of rich
galaxy clusters, should be seen in the
immediate vicinity of the lens, providing
us with measurements of the lensing
potential at many positions.
It is very tempting to speculate fur-
ther on what we may be doing in a few
years from now. Although such an ex-
ercise is always somewhat dangerous,
Figure 5: One-dimensional spectra of components A and B of HE 1104-1805. The blue lines it is not foolish to predict that a spec-
are the spectra before the correction for telluric features was applied and the black lines are trograph mounted on an AO system will
the spectra after the correction. For clarity, the blue lines have been shifted down by 0.3 units.
allow us to measure the rotation curve
of lens galaxies, making it possible to
compare, for the first time, the mass
looks very similar to the configuration plate allows us to derive the redshift of derived from direct velocity curve
presented in right hand side of Figure 1 the lens: z = 0.729 ± 0.001. measurement, with the mass inferred
of Courbin et al. (1999). The spectra of the two components from lensing. In the longer term, one
The lensing galaxy is four to five of the quasar are shown in Figure 5. may be using 2-D spectrographs on
magnitudes fainter than component A, We plot the spectra before and after OWL to map the velocity field of
which is located only one arc second the telluric features have been re- lens galaxies, lensed quasar hosts,
away. Even with good seeing, the light moved. The PSF stars are fainter than and lensed arclets in order to derive
of the galaxy is heavily blended with the quasar, so the later spectrum is very precise lens models which will
that of the quasar. To detect the lensing noisier. The main emission features of probably be fully non-parametric (e.g.,
galaxy, extract its spectrum and meas- the quasar and the telluric A and B like those described by Williams &
ure the redshift, deconvolution in the bands are indicated in the figure. Saha, 2000).
spatial direction was essential. In conclusion, leadership of ESO in
The 2-D spectrum of the lens is 4. On the Future of Quasar the field of lensed quasars can be
shown in Figure 3. The lens is com- Lensing maintained, by using both the small tel-
pletely invisible in the raw data, shown escopes to measure time delays, and
in the top panel, while it is obvious, Until recently, it was hard to resolve the larger ones to conduct imaging/
including absorption features, in the the lensed components of multiply im- spectroscopic observations with un-
bottom panel. The 1-D extraction of the aged quasars. It is now relatively precedented quality. It will be interest-
deconvolved lens spectrum is dis- straightforward and it is becoming pos- ing to see how lensed quasars will be
played in Figure 4. An unsmoothed ver- sible to extract the spectrum of the faint used in the future. Will we derive H0
sion is shown at the bottom of the fig- lensing galaxy. Measuring time delays from quasar time delays, using the very
ure with a smoothed version, shifted by is also becoming easier, since one can detailed observations of lens galaxies,
0.03 units on the vertical scale. Also efficiently process data obtained with or will we use the value of H0 derived
shown, but reduced by a factor of 20, medium-size telescopes under aver- from other techniques to infer the mass
is the spectrum of component A. Note age or poor weather conditions. profile for distant galaxies using lens-
that the lens spectrum shows no trace The remaining problem in using ing? In either case, there is a great deal
of contamination by the QSO emission gravitational lenses for measuring the to be learnt from the study of lensed
lines. The Calcium H and K absorption Hubble constant is now model degen- quasars.
lines are clearly detected in the lens eracy; several models can reproduce
and the G-band is marginally detected. the available constraints for any given 5. Acknowledgements
A template spectrum of an elliptical system. Observing many different lens-
galaxy shifted to z = 0.729 (Kinney et es, with very different image configura- It is a pleasure to thank Thomas
al. 1996) is overplotted in red. Cross tions is one approach to reduce the de- Szeifert for his expert support on
correlation of the data with this tem- generacy. Another approach is of FORS2 at VLT-UT2. We also thank all

those observers – and there are many References Lidman, C., Courbin, F., Kneib, J.-P., et al.,
– who helped us to obtain data on the 2000, A&A, submitted.
NTT and the Danish 1.54-m. We also Lopez, S., Wucknitz, O., Wisotzki, L., 1998,
Burud, I., et al. 2001, in preparation. A&A, 339, L13.
specially thank the NTT and 2.2-m Courbin, F., Lidman, C., Magain, P. 1998, Kinney, A.L., Calzetti, D., Bohlin, R.C., et al.,
teams, whose professional and courte- A&A, 330, 57. 1996, ApJ, 467, 38.
ous support has made the monitoring Courbin, F., Magain, P., Sohy, S., Lidman, Kochanek, C.S., Keeton, C.R., McLeod,
programme a success. Frédéric C., and Meylan, G., 1999 The Messenger, B.A., et al. 2000, astro -ph/0006116.
Courbin acknowledges financial sup- 97, 26. Magain, P., Courbin, F., Sohy, S., 1998, ApJ,
port through the Chilean grant FONDE- Courbin, F., Magain, P., Kirkove, M., Sohy, 494, 472.
CYT/3990024. Additional support from S. 2000a, ApJ, 529, 1136. Refsdal, S., 1964, MNRAS, 128, 295.
the European Southern Observatory Courbin, F., Lidman, C., Meylan, G., Kneib, Walsh, D., Carswell, R. F., Weymann, R. J.,
and through CNRS/CONICYT grant J.-P., Magain, P., 2000b, A&A, in press. 1979, Nature, 279, 381.
Dyson, F. W., Eddington, A. S., Davidson, Williams, L.L.R., Saha, P., 2000, AJ, 119, 439.
8730 “Mirages gravitationnels avec le
C. R., 1920, Mem. Roy. Astr. Soc., 62, Wisotzki, L., Koehler, T., Kayser, R., Rei-
VLT: distribution de matière noire et 291. mers, D., 1993, A&A, 278, L15.
contraintes cosmologiques” is also Lehar, J., Falco, E., Kochanek, C. et al. Wisotzki, L., Wucknitz, O., Lopez, S.,
gratefully acknowledged. 2000, ApJ, 536, 584. Sørensen, A., 1998, A&A, 339, L73.

3D Structure and Dynamics of the Homunculus

of Eta Carinae: an Application of the Fabry-Perot,
ADONIS and AO Software
aEuropean Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany
bUniversitàdi Bologna, Dipartimento di Astronomia, Bologna, Italy
cOsservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Summary Carinae starburst region. It has under- of material. Most of this material is cur-
gone numerous eruptions over the past rently in the dusty nebula denoted as
Eta Carinae is an extremely massive millennium. In 1841, a giant eruption the “Homunculus”.
and highly evolved member of the ejected several solar masses or more The Adaptive Optics Instrument of
the ESO 3.6-m telescope, ADONIS,
has been used in its Fabry-Perot inter-
ferometric mode to carry out observa-
tions of the nebula near the Brackett γ
line at 2.16 µm. These observations

Figure 2: Three-Dimensional Representa -

tion of the Double-Flask Model 3 of the
Homunculus, derived from the astrometric
Figure 1: The Homunculus of Carinae (i.e., the bright double-lobed structure) as observed motion2 and the Doppler velocities5 of the
with the WFPC2 of the Hubble Space Telescope. Data were obtained in a narrow-band filter clumps, and the assumption of rotational
centred at the emission line of H . The dynamic range of elements visible in this image is symmetry. This has the same scale and ori -
over one million. North is up, and the width of the image is about 45 arcseconds. entation as Figure 1.

vide new information on the structure back wall cannot penetrate the dust in
of the Homunculus. Inter-comparison of the front wall. We report here our pre-
the WFPC data and the ADONIS data liminary results on the motions of the
is an integral part of the PAPAO pro- back wall.
gramme for the validation of diffuse-ob-
ject astrometry and deconvolution soft- Structure of the Homunculus
ware. Portions of these data will form
the database for general community In order to observe the rear wall and
use for the calibration of different pro- determine its structure and velocity, we
grammes. would need to observe in the infrared
wavelengths. Observing at these
General Astrophysical wavelengths in the vicinity of the Brγ
Background line, we see light that was emitted by
the central star and reflected from a
Eta Carinae is a star in the southern clump. Thus the observed brightness
sky at a distance of about 8,000 light of an element of the image would con-
years. It is believed to be the most sist of light originating near the central
massive (> 100 solar masses) and star, reflecting from the back wall and
most luminous object in our galaxy. In then proceeding toward the observer,
1841, it underwent a cataclysmic erup- as indicated in Figure 4. Since all of
tion, becoming the second brightest ex- these clumps are moving radially away
tra-solar object in the sky. In the from the central star, the light reflected
process, it ejected several solar mass- from the clumps is “red-shifted” with re-
es of its outer envelope. Over the years spect to the wavelength of the light as
the heavier elements of this ejected it leaves the central star. It is these
gas have cooled and condensed into shifts in wavelength that we will use to
an expanding dust cloud, resulting in distinguish the light scattered from the
the nebula shown in Figure 1. rear wall as compared to the front wall.
By the detailed analysis of a se- However, three additional problems
quence of HST images like Figure 1, arise in attempting to accomplish these
Figure 3: This figure shows the four models we determined the motion of 178 indi- observations. In the first place, we
that have been published. The first is the vidual clumps of dust that lie in the need to have the angular resolution
Double-Flask presented by Currie The Homunculus. The analysis of these which is similar to that provided by the
second is the double sphere that has been motions has shown that all of the WFPC of HST to perceive the details of
the “standard” for many years. The third is clumps (i.e. the Homunculus, the NN the structure. At the time of these ob-
the Double-Egg proposed by Meaburn et and NS knots, and the south bar) were servations, there was no infrared cam-
al 7. The fourth is the Double-Cap proposed emitted by the central star in 18411, 2, 3, era available on the HST. Even with the
by Allen and Hillier5. The Double Flask is the 8. By the analysis of the spectra of the later proper operation of the HST in-
only model to satisfy both the requirements
homunculus of Allen and Hillier 4, 5 , we frared camera – NICMOS – it does not
of the HST astrometry and the Doppler ve -
locities in the Allen and Hillier5 observations. may essentially determine the Doppler have the same resolution as our visible
(see Currie and Dowling 1, 2). velocity of each of the clumps. Com- images. This is due to the diffraction
bining these data sets, we can define a limit of the relatively small aperture of
three-dimensional model, at least for the HSTwhen used for observations at
that portion of the Homunculus that the relatively long wavelengths of two
have allowed probing the interior of the we can see from earth1, 3. This microns. For this reason, the ESO 3.6-
major elements of the Homunculus analysis has allowed the definition of metre telescope, with its Adaptive
and, in particular, the back wall. These the Double-Flask
elements were not visible in our WFPC Model, indicated in
observations at visible wavelengths 2, 3. Figure 2, and the
The preliminary results of the analysis rejection of the oth-
of the ADONIS data have confirmed er models that
the “Double-Flask” model of the have been pro-
Homunculus; a model that we pro- posed in the litera-
posed based upon the Hubble data3 ture in the past.
and spectroscopic data4, 5. This ap- The Double-Flask
proach can also determine the opacity Model has recent-
of the Homunculus walls, as well as ly been confirmed
the total mass and the grain structure by polarisation mea-
of the dust. In the next issue of The surements made
Messenger, we shall present an analy- with WFPC2 on
sis of small clumps of material ejected the HST9. However,
at velocities almost 1% of the speed of there are still ques-
light1. These “bullets” and the material tions as to the hid-
following the bullets, the “contrails”, den portions of the Figure 4: This figure illustrates the paths and the Doppler shifts of
called the “Spikes”, have been meas- Homunculus and the Br line-emission radiation that is emitted by the central star.
ured using the STARFINDER pro- we are interested This light reflects from the clumps in the walls of the Homunculus,
gramme. This analysis has discovered in the structural experiencing a “double red shift”. The length of the green arrows is
and velocity details proportional
about one hundred additional “Malin” to the radial velocity of the dust clumps. Each clump
bullets. sees the arriving light as red-shifted by this radial velocity. Then
of the back wall. since the clump is also moving away from the observer, there is a
The ADONIS data, as well as other The back wall is in- further red shift equal to the component of the velocity along the line
data taken in direct support of the visible to HST be- of sight. Thus the Br line proceeding along the red arrows to the
PAPAO programme6, 10 (see June cause the visible observer has experienced a double Doppler shift of the wavelength
2000 issue of The Messenger) pro- radiation from the that can be detected by the Fabry-Perot Interferometer.

The Fabry-Perot can be used to
scan over the wavelengths near the hy-
drogen emission line Brγ at 2.16 mi-
crons and obtain the line profile. The
light from this line originates from the
central star (or the stellar wind near the
central star), and reflects off the clumps
and then proceeds toward our tele-
scope. The relative motion of the clump
with respect to the source of the radia-
tion and with respect to the earth caus-
es Doppler shifts in the wavelengths.
Thus the front and back wall have dif-
ferent wavelengths, which we can de-
tect with the Fabry-Perot. The profile of
the Brγ line of the patch shown with an
arrow in Figure 5 is plotted in Figure 6.
Although we have data for the entire
Homunculus, we here consider only
the data from the axis of symmetry, that
is, the plane that lies in the line of sight
and includes the symmetry axis of the
Homunculus. This is the most sensitive
discriminator between the models.
We now use the Double-Flask
Model to predict the position and ve-
locity of each of the clumps. For each
position in the Homunculus, we can
predict the apparent wavelength (or
shift in velocity) of the radiation sam-
pled by the Fabry Perot Interferom-
Figure 5: This is the image of the Homunculus, as seen with the Fabry-Perot of the Adaptive eter. For simplicity, we will consider
Optics System, ADONIS, attached to the ESO 3.6-m telescope. This is an average over the only the effects along the “symmetry
13 individual images, each obtained at slightly different wavelengths. The disk in the centre axis” of the Homunculus, along which
is the image of the coronographic spot blocking the central 2 . Spectra are extracted at each the 8 spots are aligned in Figure 5. The
of the 8 white spots, with some additional extractions of larger spots to reduce the noise. As
an example of the type of spectra obtained at each patch in the image, we consider the patch
red curve in Figure 7 shows the pre-
indicated by the white arrow and shown in Figure 6. In this image, north is approximately up dicted velocities from the Double-Flask
and the width of the image is about 25 arcseconds. Model, and the red points show the
measured offsets in the wavelength
of Brγ.
Thus we see that this preliminary
Optics System, ADONIS, is the only tel- the light from the Homunculus to pass analysis yields a very good confirma-
escope (on earth or in space) that to the detector array. tion of the values of the velocities of the
could satisfy the resolution require-
ments of this imaging.
However, this does not complete our Figure 6: Profile of η Car nebula
requirements. We must have some the Br line at the po -
method to distinguish between the ra- sition of the patch in -
diation from the front wall and the back dicated with an ar -
row in Figure 5. The
wall over the whole image. To this end, peak at 2.167 mi -
we have used the Fabry Perot crons (F) is the light
Interferometer that is a part of the ADO- F
that comes from the
NIS system. We used this to provide central star, reflects
images at different wavelengths in the off a clump in the
vicinity of Brγ and with a spectral reso- front wall and pro -
lution of 1000. This implies that we ceeds without further
have a velocity resolution of 300 obscuration to the
km/sec, that is just enough to distin- observer. The peak
at 2.175 microns (B)
guish between the Doppler shift of the represents the light
reflected radiation from the two walls. that is emitted by the B
Finally, the central star is so bright that central star, and
if it were placed on the detector, the ar- goes to the back wall
ray would be saturated. Therefore, we and reflects toward
need to block the light from the central the observer, as dis -
star. One could move the central star cussed in Figure 4.
off the detector array, but then we need Since it then passes
multiple exposures to cover the through the front
wall, the intensity of
Homunculus. the light from the
Fortunately, ADONIS also has a back wall is much re -
coronographic occulting system. That lambda
duced. However, be -
is, an opaque blocking spot in the re- cause the two walls may not have the same irradiation, and because the reflection occurs at
imaged focal plane. This spot blocks different phase angles, we cannot directly interpret the ratio of the peak heights as the opac -
the light of the central star, but allows ity of the front wall.

DOPPLERVELOCITYOFFSETS Figure 7: Velocity (in km s–1) as a function of Acknowledgements
Double-Flask Model
Observational Results the distance to the central star, along the
symmetry axis. Comparison of the Fabry- We wish to thank the 3.6-metre team
Perot Observations and the Double-Flask at La Silla for support in the ADONIS
Model. The red line illustrates the predicted
Doppler velocities for the Double-Flask
Model for the locally reflected Br line. This
uses the published parameters (with no ad - References
justable parameters) for the Double-Flask
1Currie, D.G. and D.M. Dowling. (1999) “Eta
model. The thick red line indicates that part
of the Homunculus that can be seen by an Carinae at the Millennium”, ASP Confe-
observer. The red boxes are the observa - rence Series, Vol. 179, 1999, J.A. Morse,
tions of the Doppler velocities, that is, the R.M. Humphries, and A. Damineli, eds.
2Currie D. G., D. M. Dowling, et. al., 1996,
spectral peaks found in the set of 8 curves
similar to Figure 6, for each of 8 patches AJ 112, 1115.
3Currie, D.G., D.M. Dowling, E. Shaya, J.J.
along the symmetry axis of the Homunculus
in Figure 5 (2 peaks per spatial position, cor - Hester (1996), “Role of Dust in the For-
responding to the front and the back wall). mation of Stars”, Garching bei München,
Federal Republic of Germany, 11–14
September 1995. Proceedings of the
ESO Workshop, Käufl, H. U. and Sieben-
morgen, R. (Ed.) Springer-Verlag, 89–94.
4Allen, D.A. and D.J Hillier, 1993. Proc.

Conclusion Astron. Soc. Aust, 10 338.

5Allen, D.A. and D.J Hillier, 1989, MNRAS

241, 195–207.
We have verified that the assump- 6 Currie, D., E. Diolaiti, S. Tordo, K.

Offset from Central Star Along Symmetry Axis in

tion of rotational symmetry, which was Naesgarde, J. Liwing, O. Bendinelli, G.
arcseconds made in the earlier analysis3, 8 is in- Parmeggiani, L. Close, D. Bonaccini,
deed correct. These data also illus- 2000, SPIE, 4007-73.
trate that the Double-Flask Model is 7Dowling, D.M. (1996), “The Astrometric

strongly preferred over the Double- Expansion and 3-D Structure of eta
visible front wall that were derived from Sphere and the Double-Cap models. Carinae” University of Maryland, Ph. D.
other data. In addition, for the first time, Finally, this analysis also confirms the Thesis.
8Meaburn, J., J.R. Walsh and R. D.
we can observe the structure and orientation of the symmetry axis with
Wolstencroft (1993), A&A 213 89.
measure the velocities of the invisible respect to the line of sight of 40 ± 2 de- 9Schulte-Ladbeck, R.E., A. Pasquali, M.
back wall from the data obtained using grees. Further analysis will address the Clampin, A. Nota, D.J. Hillier, O.L. Lupie
the Fabry-Perot Interferometer and the refinement of the Double-Flask param- (1999), AJ 118, 1320.
coronographic spot of the ADONIS sys- eters (rather than the discrimination 10Currie, D. et al. 2000. The Messenger 100,
tem. between different models). 12.

Unlocking the Past of Sakurai’s Object Using

1Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility; 2European Southern Observatory;
3Observatoire Astronomique, Strasbourg, France; 4International Space University, Illkirch, France;
5Universität Kiel, Germany; 6Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn, Germany

1. Summary old PN surrounding Sakurai’s object. helium intermittently. While hydrogen

We have derived improved values for burning can be gradually turned on, he-
Sakurai’s object (V4334 Sgr) was the interstellar reddening and we have lium ignites in a thermo-nuclear run-
discovered by Japanese amateur as- been able to reliably measure addition- away leading to a very abrupt increase
tronomer Y. Sakurai in February 1996 al diagnostic lines. In particular, the in brightness, hence the term flash or
and first classified as a slow nova. value found for the He II 4686 line is in thermal pulse. As a consequence of
Follow-up observations though imme- excellent agreement with our earlier this behaviour, stars lose a very sig-
diately showed this to be a very special model calculations. We thereby con- nificant percentage of their mass within
object indeed. It turned out to be a true firm the previous result that the star a short period of time leaving only a
stellar chameleon, perhaps the most was a hot, highly evolved PN nucleus thin atmospheric layer on top of the for-
rapidly evolving star ever witnessed. before the flash. mer stellar core when it leaves the
Details of its discovery and early ob- AGB. The post-AGB star heats up
servations are found in Duerbeck et al. 2. The Nature of Sakurai’s while shrinking physically and therefore
(1996, 1997), Kerber et al. (1998) and Object moves horizontally in the HRD. Upon
Clayton & de Marco (1997). We have reaching 30,000 K, the matter lost pre-
now used the combined power of Today astronomers think that Saku- viously (AGB wind) gets ionised and
FORS/VLT in order to deepen our in- rai’s object is undergoing a final helium becomes visible as a planetary nebula
sight into this object and its evolution. flash. Helium (shell) flashes are com- (PN). This PN central star will quickly
Using FORS/VLT observations, we mon on the asymptotic giant branch (few 1000 to 10,000 years) exhaust the
have obtained the best spectrum of the (AGB) when stars burn hydrogen and remaining hydrogen fuel and then en-

by directly as the only observations on
record are Schmidt survey plates,
which might just show it at the plates’
limit of 21 mag in R. However, the den-
sity of the PN around the Sakurai’s ob-
ject is so low that it responds very slow-
ly to the cut-off of UV photons, in fact,
it will take hundreds of years to recom-
bine. Therefore, the nebular plasma
keeps a memory of the ionisation when
the star was still hot enough to ionise it.
With our VLT observation, we follow up
earlier work by Pollacco (1999) and
ourselves (Kerber et al. 1999a) in
which we were able to confirm that
Sakurai’s object was indeed a highly
evolved PN nucleus when the flash oc-
The PN surrounding V4334 Sgr is an
evolved round nebula of very low sur-
face brightness which has a rather mot-
tled appearance, and a brighter seg-
ment in the NW sector (Fig. 1). The an-
gular diameter of 32 arcsec was given
by Duerbeck & Benetti (1996). Jacoby
et al. (1998) have clearly detected
emission out to a diameter of 44 arc-
sec. In our 2D spectrum (Fig. 2) ob-
tained with FORS 1 we can trace neb-
ular emission to a maximum extent of
Figure 1: H image of the PN surrounding Sakurai’s object. The slit position is indicated by about 39 arcsec. Since our slit only
the solid bars. cuts through a section of the nebula,
this is in agreement with the larger di-
ameter reported.
ters the white dwarf cooling track, while • The time evolution of the brightness As this is a photon-hungry enter-
the PN quickly fades and mixes into the is in general agreement with both prise, we decided to simply put to
interstellar medium. Theory predicts the model (Iben et al. 1983) for a very use the enormous light gathering ca-
though that for 10 to 20% of all low- late helium flash (i.e. after the end of pability of VLT’s Antu in order to ob-
mass stars one final, and delayed heli- H-burning, in contrast to a late flash tain a very deep spectrum of the PN.
um flash will occur with dramatic con- which happens while H-burning is We therefore observed with FORS 1
sequences: The renewed supply of en- still active (suggested for FG Sge, using a single long slit on a single
ergy balloons the star to giant dimen- by Blöcker & Schönberner 1997) and slit position that was centred on the
sions, again sending it back to the AGB the other possible historic example brightest part of the nebula and cov-
with a massive increase in brightness. for a very late helium flash, V605 ered a large fraction of the diameter
The term born-again giant has been Aql, the central star of A 58 (Seitter but avoided V4334 Sgr itself, which
coined for such re-animated stars. The 1987). was still a bright object at the time. No
idea that Sakurai’s object is indeed • Another fact supporting the born- particular request in terms of seeing
such a born-again giant is now based again hypothesis is the formation of was made. The slit was 8 arcsec long
on several observational facts sum- molecular features (Asplund et al. and 2.5 arcsec wide. Specifically we
marised below. 1997, Kerber et al. 1997) and of large aimed for a high signal-to-noise ratio
• The star is surrounded by a round amounts of hot dust as the star returns and a large spectral coverage. To this
nebula showing a spectrum typical for to the AGB. Our ISO observations cov- end we used three different set-ups,
an evolved planetary nebula. This is ering four epochs over one year Grism 300V (without filter), 300V with
strong evidence that the star must have showed a tenfold increase in the 4 to GG435 and Grism 300I with OG590.
been on the AGB previously and also 25 µm range (Kerber et al. 1999b). We We had planned individual exposures
had already evolved into a hot PN nu- found a significant mass-loss rate, of 2400 s each, which would then
cleus. which also appears to vary. During the be combined during data reduction.
• V4334 Sgr’s photosphere is highly same period the visual light curve went Due to some technical problems, the
deficient in hydrogen but enriched in through a series of deep declines as observations were executed in a some-
heavier elements (Asplund et al. 1997, the dust became optically thick. This what different manner, but that did not
Kipper & Klochkova 1997). Further- behaviour is similar to R CrB stars, a compromise their quality nor the sci-
more, its composition has been found rare class of irregular variable stars, entific value. For 300V without filter,
to change over time as hydrogen was which form clouds of dust close to the a total of 13,919 s were obtained in
further depleted, whereas s-process el- photosphere blocking our line of sight. six exposures, for 300V+ GG435,
ements have increased in abundance A similar process seems likely for 4800 s in two exposures, and for
(Asplund et al. 1999). This behaviour Sakurai’s object. V300I+OG590 we integrated for 6961 s
can be explained in terms of a very late in four exposures, which gives a total
helium flash during which the outer 3. The VLT Observations integration time on the object of 25,680
H-rich atmosphere is ingested into the s or just over seven hours in service
helium burning shell while processed One crucial piece of evidence would mode.
material from the stellar interior is be to know about the properties of A major part of the data reduction
mixed up to the surface resulting in the Sakurai’s object before the helium was performed using a developers re-
peculiar abundance pattern. flash. Such information is hard to come lease of the FORS pipeline software,

tained linearly rebinned, 2-dimen-
sional spectra for the science data
and sky subtracted, optimal extracted
spectra for the spectrophotometric
standards. Processing of spectropho-
tometric standards is still under evalua-
tion by DFO and therefore not routine-
ly used for pipeline reduction of serv-
ice-mode data, but the results obtained
with the developer’s version of the
FORS pipeline available to us are well
within the limits set by our require-
Figure 2 shows a section of the 2D
spectrum after bias subtraction and flat
fielding have been performed. The
dominant features are the emission
lines from the night sky, many of which
are much stronger than the nebular
emission. After visual inspection, the
spectrum was extracted and special
care was taken to avoid contamina-
tion from brighter stars in the crowded

4. Results

The spectrum of the PN around

Sakurai’s object we obtained with the
combination of FORS/VLT has the
highest S/N ever obtained. Further-
more, it extends the spectral coverage
towards the red making additional lines
Figure 2: 2-D representation of a single FORS exposure with Grism 300V (2400 s). Shown available for analysis. From the Balmer
is a region centred on 5000 Å with the two prominent [O III] lines. Slit width 2.5 arcsec. decrement we derive a reddening
E(BV) of 0.79, which is somewhat high-
er than earlier values derived from op-
which was made available to us by the arcsec, was requested from the tical studies, but still within the error
Data Management and Operations Science Archive for Grism 300I and bars. This has some implications for
Division (DMD) for evaluation. The processed by the pipeline. The ob- the notoriously problematic distance
FORS pipeline is implemented as a tained dispersion relation was then determination. Highly discrepant val-
MIDAS context. In addition to the manually shifted by the appropriate off- ues for the distance had been suggest-
MIDAS package, we also had the set which has been determined by ed by different methods (e.g. Duerbeck
chance to use the complete pipeline in- cross correlating the line positions from et al. 1997, Kimeswenger & Kerber
frastructure (Data Organiser, Reduc- the 2.5 arcsec slit exposure and the 1.0 1998). The extinction distance method
tion Block Scheduler and Local Cali- arcsec slit exposure. has yielded significantly lower values
bration Database) as it is used at The science observations and the than other methods. With the new red-
the Paranal Observatory and by Data observations of the spectrophotometric dening value, distances larger than 2
Flow Operations (DFO) in Garching. standard stars were fed through the kpc become possible and an improved
Usually, the pipeline infrastructure is pipeline. As a final product we ob- reddening vs. distance relation is re-
not available to normal users. They
have to use the MIDAS context RBS
instead, which is part of the latest
MIDAS release.
The pipeline was used to process the
raw instrument calibration data (biases,
flat fields) for each of the three instru-
ment set-ups, which came bundled
with the actual observations, to create
master versions of the instrument cali-
bration data. Also the dispersion rela-
tion was reliably determined by the
pipeline for all instrument set-ups ex-
cept for Grism 300I. It turned out that
this was due to the emission-line cata-
logue used by the pipeline, which was
not best suited for the combination of
Grism 300I and 2.5 arcsec slit (a revi-
sion of the line catalogues used by the
FORS pipeline is currently on its way).
Therefore, a calibration-lamp exposure
for the same instrument set-up, but for
the FORS slit having a width of only 1.0 Figure 3: Spectrum extracted from a combination of the six Grism 300V exposures.

ameter of 32 arcsec at a distance of 1.5
kpc, with a density of 100 cm–3. The
best fit is given by T* = 98,000 ± 7000
K and L* = 25 ± 5 L0. For a distance of
5.5 kpc the best fit is at T* =
95,000±7000 K and L* = 240 ± 40 L0.
Our results show that Sakurai’s
pre-flash position in the HRD was in-
deed that of a highly evolved PN cen-
tral star, entering the white dwarf cool-
ing tracks. Thus, it is truly a case of a
very late helium flash.

Asplund, M., Gustafsson, B., Lambert, D.L.,
Kameswara Rao, N., 1997, A&A 321, L
Asplund, M., Lambert, D.L., Kipper, T.,
Figure 4: Expanded view of part of Figure 3 showing H and the He II 4686 line. Pollacco, D., Shetrone, M.D., 1999, A&A
343, 507.
Blöcker, T., Schönberner D., 1997, A&A
Table 1: Intensities relative to I (H ) = 100, d cannot be obtained. Thus a reliable 423, 991.
corrected with an extinction of c = 1.17. and accurate distance remains the Clayton, G.C., de Marco, O., 1997, AJ 114,
greatest obstacle to a better under- 2679.
λ [Å] ID I/I (Hβ) standing of Sakurai’s object. Duerbeck, H.W., Benetti, S., 1996, ApJ 468,
Preliminary analysis of the VLT data L111.
4101 Hδ 27.23 shows that most of the findings report- Duerbeck, H.W., Benetti, S., Gautschy, A.,
4340 Hγ 58.5 van Genderen, A.M., Kemper, C., Liller,
ed earlier can now be confirmed with a
4363 [O III] 5.9 W., Thomas, T., 1997, AJ 114, 1657.
much higher level of confidence. In par- Iben, I., Kaler, J.B., Truran, J.W., Renzini, A.,
4471 He I 9.2 ticular the best ionisation model in our 1983, ApJ 265, 605.
4686 He II 19.0 previous study predicted an He II 4686 Jacoby, G.H., de Marco, O., Swayer, D.G.,
4861 Hβ 100 flux of about 20% of Hβ. This is beauti- 1998a, AJ 116, 1367.
4959 [O III] 280.0 fully corroborated by the new observa- Kerber F., Gratl H., Roth M., 1997, IAU Circ.
5007 [O III] 857.5 tions which show the helium line at a 6601.
5875 He I 8.8 strength of 19% of Hβ (Table 1 and Kerber, F., Gratl, H., Kimeswenger, S., Roth,
6548 [N II] 48.6 Figs. 3 and 4). M., 1998, Ap&SS 255, 279.
6563 Hα 304.3 Kerber, F., Blommaert, J.D.A.L., Groe-
In our previous model we had as-
6583 [N II] 171.0 newegen, M.A.T., Kimeswenger S., Käufl,
sumed solar chemical composition, for H.-U., Asplund M., 1999a, A&A 350, L27.
6678 He I 5.0 which we had obtained a rather good Kerber F., Köppen J., Roth M., Trager S.C.,
6717 [S II] 31.7 fit. It has been demonstrated before 1999b, A&A 344, L 79.
6731 [S II] 22.2 that nebulae around hydrogen-defi- Kimeswenger, S., Kerber, F., 1998, A&A
7135 [Ar III] 14.1 cient central stars have perfectly 330, L 41.
7750 [Ar III] 3.1 normal abundances. Examples are K Kipper, T., Klochkova, V.G., 1997, A&A 324,
9069 [S III] 27.4 1-27 and LoTr 4 (Rauch et al. 1994, L 65.
9531 [S III] 78.1 1996). Köppen, J., 1979, A&AS 35, 111.
Pollacco, D., 1999, MNRAS 304, 127.
With the photoionisation code Rauch, T., Köppen, J., Werner, K., 1994,
GWYN (Köppen 1979; Rauch et al. A&A 286, 543.
quired to finalise the distance. From the 1996) we computed a grid of spherical- Rauch, T., Köppen, J., Werner, K., 1996,
nebular spectrum and the appropriate ly symmetric models of solar composi- A&A 310, 613.
ionisation models alone a constraint on tion nebulae, all having an angular di- Seitter, W.C., 1987, The Messenger 50, 14.

Wide-angle view of the Paranal Observatory at sunset. The last rays of the sun illuminate
the telescope enclosures at the top of the mountain and some of the buildings at the
Base Camp. The new “residencia” that will provide living space for the Paranal staff
and visitors from next year is being constructed to the left.

The UVES Data Reduction
1European Southern Observatory; 2Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels; 3Science Computing GmbH, Munich

1. Introduction image slicer mode, an improved back- The Garching pipeline is the one
ground estimation procedure and a com- used by the Quality Control Scientists
The Ultraviolet-Visible Echelle Spec- plete update of the calibration database. to prepare the reduced data distributed
trograph (UVES) was the first instru- The pipeline was then adapted to meet to service mode observers. The best
ment installed at the second VLT Unit the needs of the Data Flow Operations possible accuracy is achieved drawing
Telescope KUEYEN at the end of 1999. (DFO) group in Garching, which deliv- from the pool of available calibration
UVES is a high-resolution cross-dis- ers reduced data to service mode obser- data – either produced during the ob-
persed echelle spectrograph covering vers. A further upgrade with increased serving run, or as part of regular cali-
the wavelength domain from the ultra- checks of quality control parameters bration programmes – the ones judged
violet at 300 nm to the near-infrared at was done in August 2000. Extended- most suitable by the DFO Quality
1100 nm with two optical arms, which source extraction, as well as the exten- Control Scientist. The Garching pipe-
can be used in dichroic mode for paral- sion to support the FLAMES fibre port line applies the same pre-defined re-
lel observations (Dekker et al., 2000). of UVES are under development. duction strategy to all science data, in-
Its large-size echelle gratings, each 84 dependent of the scientific purpose of
cm long, make it possible to achieve a 2. Pipeline Operations the observations. The quality of the cal-
spectral resolution of up to 80,000 in ibration solutions is also measured and
the blue arm and 115,000 in the red. It The UVES pipeline is tuned primari- stored for trend analysis.
is equipped with 3 CCD detectors each ly to support operations in Paranal and
of size 4K × 2K pixels, one EEV CCD Garching. The main difference be- 3. Reduction Procedures
in the blue arm, and an EEV/MIT CCD tween Paranal and Garching use of the
mosaic in the red arm. Commissioning pipeline lies mostly in the operational To work its way through the many
observations have shown the high in- objective of the reduction. In Paranal it configurations, the pipeline makes use
trinsic efficiency of this instrument, par- is used to have a quick look at the not only of the FITS header informa-
ticularly in the ultraviolet domain (13% on-going observations and monitor the tion, but also of the specific knowledge
at 360 nm). More than 200 hours of sci- instrument health. DFO operations aim of the optical design of the instrument
entific observations from UVES com- at providing the best-possible reduced by means of a physical model. The
missioning and science verification products and at controlling their quality. model is involved at many stages of the
time have been released for public use. As a consequence, the update rate of calibration to provide reference values
The instrument started regular opera- the calibration solutions differs be- and initial solutions for the current con-
tion in visitor and service mode on April1, tween the two sites: daily in Garching, figuration making the data reduction
2000, and is used for about 75% of the monthly at Paranal. completely automatic. In addition to the
telescope time (D’Odorico, 2000). The Paranal pipeline is the one calibration solutions, the pipeline deliv-
The need to provide quick-look re- available to visiting observers at the tel- ers quality control information to help
duction of the data at the telescope, to escope. It supports all standard set- the user in assessing the proper exe-
monitor the instrument performance and tings of the instrument (11 central cution of the data reduction process.
to prepare the data distributed to serv- wavelengths and 4 detector modes) The UVES pipeline is able to provide
ice mode observers are the major driv- and makes use of pre-determined cali- good-quality science-data reduction for
ers for VLT instrument pipelines. In the bration solutions established for a ref- low to medium signal-to-noise data un-
case of UVES, with the 500 spectral for- erence configuration. The accuracy of der the assumption that the object is a
mats supported by the instrument and this calibration is therefore limited by point-source, centred on the slit. The
the expected 2.5 Gbytes of daily data, possible instrumental drifts for example standard spectra extraction in the
special emphasis was put into design- due to temperature variations or earth- course of the reduction at Paranal or in
ing methods for automated spectral for- quakes. The data-reduction software is Garching is made in optimal extraction
mat calibration supported by physical robust to shifts of up to about ten pix- mode which provides a maximal sig-
models. These methods were prepared els, and the spectral format is regularly nal-to-noise ratio per bin, automatic sky
in 1998 and the pipeline integration compared at the telescope with refer- background correction and cosmic ray
started in 1999. After the initial phases ence calibration solutions. If a deviation rejection. Different reduction strategies
of integration in Europe and commis- is noticed that goes beyond the limit of can be implemented by using directly
sioning of the instrument, the pipeline robustness of the pipeline, it is neces- the data reduction package, which pro-
was first installed at the telescope dur- sary either to realign the instrument to vides additional extraction methods
ing the second commissioning of the the reference configuration or to up- and data reduction options.
instrument in December 1999. It was date the database. Non-standard set-
then used for technical verification, and tings are also supported at the tele- 3.1 Predictive format calibration
during the Science Verification that took scope. These solutions are however
place in February 2000. It was upgrad- not stored in the calibration database, The geometric calibration is a com-
ed in March 2000 with a robust version, but in a temporary area and are re- plete definition of the spectral format
improved optimal extraction, support for moved at the end of an observing run. including the order position and the

Figure 1: The general reduction scheme of the UVES pipeline. Model predicted positions of wavelength calibration lines are projected onto
a format-check frame (a). The predicted positions are adjusted to the observed positions and an initial dispersion relation solution is pro -
duced (b). The order position is automatically defined on a narrow flat-field exposure using the physical model and a Hough Transform pro -
cedure (c). The initial dispersion relation is refined on a Th-Ar frame in order to fully take into account the slit curvature (d). Bias exposures
are averaged to produce a master bias frame (e). Flat-field exposures are processed to produce a master flat frame and to determine the
blaze function (f). The science frames are automatically reduced using the previous calibration solutions (g). After optimal extraction and or -
der merging, a one-dimensional spectrum is produced (h).

wavelength associated to each detec- central positions are projected onto the value close to the actual shift of the in-
tor pixel. This step was traditionally car- format-check frame. The lines are strument configuration in the corre-
ried out via visual identification of a few found in the narrow Th-Ar frame by a sponding direction (Fig 2c). After the
lines and for this reason many new two-dimensional centring procedure. May 12, 2000 earthquake event, the in-
methods had to be developed. The pre- The initial dispersion relation, usually strument control parameters have been
cision with which the geometric calibra- based on about a hundred initial detec- readjusted to a reference configuration.
tion is performed determines the accu- tions is refined with successive itera- A preliminary step toward the reduc-
racy of all successive steps, in particu- tions on the spectrum until most lines tion of echelle spectra is the definition
lar the optimal extraction and the pho- are found. of the order position (Fig. 1c). For the
tometric calibration. Initial methods for The format-check data-reduction sake of accuracy and stability of the slit
an automated detection of the order step generates control plots which pro- tracing, this operation is usually per-
position and the wavelength calibration vide a quality check of the model and of formed on contrasted, continuous
were developed using the Hough the stability of the instrument configu- spectra such as flat-fields or bright star
Transform method (Ballester, 1994). In ration. The difference between the pre- exposures. A specific narrow flat-field
the case of UVES, the high non-linear- dicted and measured position of the template was defined for this purpose.
ity of the dispersion relation required reference calibration lamp lines are It takes an exposure of the flat-field
the development of a physical model of plotted as a function of the position on lamp with the shortest slit equal to 0.5
dispersion in order to predict the dis- the detector or the wavelength. Typi- arcsec. This kind of exposure provides
persion relation and to efficiently cali- cally, a thin, well-clustered distribution an accurate position of the spectrum
brate the several hundreds of optical of the displayed points, with mean val- along the cross-dispersion direction. In
configurations (125 central orders in 4 ue near zero, is a direct indication of this step the physical model uses the
detector modes) offered by the instru- good model prediction (Fig. 2a). On the information on the instrument configu-
ment (Ballester & Rosa, 1997). contrary, a randomly scattered distribu- ration provided in the FITS header to
A template is dedicated to acquire a tion indicates a probable instrument estimate the number of orders present
“format-check” frame (Fig. 1a, b), configuration shift (Fig. 2b). In this case in the image. Hough Transform detec-
namely a ThAr calibration taken with a one could guess adjusted model pa- tion is then applied to find the central
short slit height. The positions of a few rameters. Once a concentrated distri- position of each order and an estimate
hundred well-separated ThAr lines bution is found again, usually by of their slope at the centre. Finally the
contained in a reference table are pre- changing the offset along the cross -or- cross-order profile is centred along the
dicted by the physical model and their der direction, the plot will have a mean order and a polynomial fit is performed.

Figure 2: The May 12, 2000 earthquake event as detected from the physical model control plots. The normal result obtained after success -
ful line matching (a) produces a well concentrated distribution with mean ordinate zero. The earthquake event causes the lines matching step
to fail (b). Adjusting the model by –10 pixels (along the cross-order direction) again matches the instrument configuration (c).

Three independent wavelength cali- oped for cross-dispersed spectroscopy rejection threshold is therefore adjust-
brations (Fig. 1d) are performed along (Marsh, 1989; Mukai, 1990) involving ed to the signal-to-noise so that the
the slit to take into account the poten- data resampling for the sole purpose of cosmic-ray rejection is relaxed for in-
tial effects of slit curvature. Three sub- estimating the weights. creasing signal-to-noise data, converg-
windows are identified along the slit, The optimal extraction algorithm of ing to an average extraction scheme
one for the object and two for the sky, the UVES pipeline is based on profile for high signal-to-noise data. Presently,
all equal in size. The initial dispersion fitting by chi-square minimisation. It es- this method appears to be appropriate
relation produced with the format- timates the object signal and sky back- for data with a signal-to-noise per bin
check frame is refined on each sub- ground and performs cosmic ray rejec- up to fifty. For higher signal-to-noise,
window. tion under the assumption of a an average extraction is recommended
From a set of bias exposures it is Gaussian profile of the light distribution which is also provided in the data
possible to produce a master bias im- along the slit. The extraction is per- reduction software.
age through a stacked mean (Fig. 1e). formed independently on each order. In the average extraction, the source
Similarly from a set of flat images it is First the full-width at half-maximum and is centred on the slit and sky windows
possible to create a master flat image the position of the object is estimated are determined. The object contribution
with master bias subtraction and back- for different subsections along the or- is summed in the object sub-window,
ground subtraction as well as to derive der. Next through a chi-square minimi- and the sky contribution is averaged
the blaze efficiency function for each sation, the amplitude and the sky back- and subtracted from the object. Data
order (Fig. 1f). Science raw data (Fig. ground are estimated. The Gaussian acquired in image slicer mode are
1g) can be processed using optimal or shape is a reasonable assumption for processed with average extraction and
average extraction. low to medium signal-to-noise data. without sky subtraction.
Sky emission lines are removed during Both extraction methods, average and
3.2 Optimal and the extraction: they fill the whole slit optimal, support the propagation of var-
average extraction and are accounted for by the constant iance. The initial variance is estimated
term of the spatial profile. Tests have on the raw images by a noise model in-
Optimal extraction is a minimal vari- shown that the sky fine subtraction cluding read-out and photon noise. The
ance estimator of the flux at each achieves an accuracy better than 5%. variance images are then transformed
wavelength. The algorithm introduced Strong sky emission lines may remain together with the data frames on each
by Horne (1986) for long-slit data as- visible in the extracted spectrum as processing step. Finally this informa-
sumes that the illumination fractions of residual light and of course by the larg- tion is used to optimally merge the or-
the spatial profile vary smoothly with er variance of the extracted spectrum. ders and to deliver error bar estimates
the wavelength and can be adjusted by Cosmic rays are rejected by comparing on the result spectrum.
low-order polynomials. This assump- the raw cross-order profile with the re-
tion does not generally hold in echelle sult of the fit. One of the common diffi- 3.3 Standard pipeline processing
spectroscopy due to the inclination of culties in optimal extraction schemes is and general reduction
the orders. Resampling the data along to prevent the rejection of valid data
the spatial profiles would introduce pe- samples by the cosmic ray rejection The standard pipeline processing of
riodic profile distortions and noise. methods in particular on high signal-to- science data starts with data prepara-
Different methods have been devel- noise data. In the UVES pipeline, the tion: the raw input frames are rotated

Figure 3: These plots show the FWHM of ThAr lines (left) and the instrument resolution (centre) as a function of the position on the detec -
tor along the X and Y directions, and finally the resolution versus wavelength (upper right) and the distribution of measured lines over the
detector (bottom right).

and in the case of the red mosaic data, each order. In standard pipeline reduc- physical model, the line position on the
split for each detector. The instrument’s tion, the blaze function is estimated from actual format-check frame and on a ref-
background light is corrected in two a flat-field exposure, which after extrac- erence format-check frame are meas-
steps: a master bias frame is subtract- tion, wavelength calibration and smooth- ured and then the mean and standard
ed and the inter-order background light ing enables merging of adjacent orders deviation of the relative difference are
is estimated by a minimum filter. The with an accuracy of a few per cent. determined. This quality control proce-
optimal extraction provides the object The data reduction software and dure has been particularly important to
signal and its variance. The flat-field pipeline procedures are distributed as track the stability of the spectral for-
correction is performed in the standard a MIDAS context on the 99NOV CD- mats since the beginning of operations
reduction scheme in pixel-order space ROM. It includes all the pipeline proce- (Figs. 2, 4).
on the extracted data. The signal is then dures for data reduction and on-line During wavelength calibration, the
resampled to constant wavelength bins quality control, documentation, step-by- mean, median, and standard deviation
and the orders are merged into a single step examples and a tutorial demon- of line FWHM, and of the spectral re-
spectrum. The most time-consuming strating the complete calibration and solving power are monitored as a func-
steps in the science reduction process reduction process for blue arm data. tion of the position on the detector. The
are the inter-order background sub- With this package, any user can inter- resolution plot (Fig. 3) shows informa-
traction and the optimal extraction of actively reduce the data, changing the tion on the instrument spectral resolu-
the spectra. On Paranal, a 4K × 2K sci- options or the data selection with re- tion derived during the process of
ence exposure produced by one red spect to the observatory pipeline. The wavelength calibration.
detector is fully reduced in about six to user can interactively produce for all On Paranal, the UVES pipeline
twelve minutes depending on the ma- UVES configurations the calibration so- records the quality control parameters
chine. lutions necessary to properly reduce in log files. Spectral resolution, instru-
In echelle spectroscopy, for a proper the raw science data. ment stability and efficiency parameters
merging of the adjacent orders, a pre- are tracked and stored together with
requisite is the correction of the blaze 4. Pipeline Quality Control environmental parameters measured by
function.The UVES pipeline makes Procedures UVES sensors. These log files are ar-
possible to estimate the blaze function chived for long-term trend analysis, and
from a spectrophotometry standard or Almost as important as data reduc- parsed for the generation of graphs ac-
from a flat-field exposure. The analysis tion is quality control. A number of pro- cessible within the observatory to the
of standard stars makes use of the tar - cedures have been written to verify the operations teams. Figure 4 shows the
get coordinates to look up in the data- instrument performance in terms of sta- evolution of the frame shift along the
base the appropriate flux reference bility, efficiency and resolution. With dispersion as a function of the observ-
table, reduces the star spectrum and format-check exposures a stability ing date. This variation is correlated
determines the conversion factor for check can be performed. Using the with the evolution of the temperature in

possible calibration solutions and for
reducing science data obtained in
Service Mode. Procedures checking
on the quality of pipeline results are
essential here. They have been de-
veloped as post-pipeline procedures
by the UVES QC Scientist to evaluate
many of the pipeline-generated results.
As an example, Figure 5 shows the
evolution of the spectral format in cross-
dispersion direction (Y) for the blue
(top) and red (bottom) gratings. These
shifts are determined from flat-field ex-
posures against a reference flat frame.
They clearly correlate with UVES tem-
perature. In addition, the May 12, 2000
earthquake has shifted the detector of
the blue arm by more than 10 pixels.
Figure 6 shows a typical example of
how the quality of a reduced (blue)
spectrum is assessed.

Figure 4: Evolution of the temperature in the instrument enclosure (a) and average shift in 1. The central row and column of the
the dispersion direction (b) as a function of time over a period of 2.5 days. The two graphs raw exposure are plotted. Here one
show a strong correlation. can monitor any anomaly of the de-
tector signal, e.g. unusual bias level.
the instrument enclosure. The QC logs sub-windows, uniformly distributed on 2. A close-up of a central column (ac-
provide highly valuable information to the detector to detect possible edge tually of 20 averaged columns)
the observatory to monitor the perform- contamination. One field is taken as shows the (instrumental plus object)
ance of the instrument and, if neces- reference. The relative intensities with profile in cross dispersion direction.
sary, to recover or improve its quality. respect to this reference field are Here the exposure level, the cen-
The efficiency for each order at the logged for quality control. tring and the sky background are
blaze wavelength is monitored. The controlled. These parameters are
overall efficiency of the observation 5. Quality Checks by QC essential for assessing the quality of
system, consisting of the telescope, in- Garching the optimum extraction.
strument and detector, is determined 3. Lower-left diagram: the full spec-
as a function of wavelength by reduc- Although planned as an automatic trum (S), its variance (N) and the
ing spectrophotometry standards for data reduction ‘machine’, the UVES signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) are plot-
which a flux table is available. It de- pipeline is also used by the Quality ted. The extreme left ends of S and
livers an efficiency curve which makes Control (QC) Scientist in Garching in a N are shown at two different scales
it possible to directly track the reflectiv- semi-interactive way to derive best- to fit in the graphic window. These
ity of optics coatings
in the different wave-
length domains and
to verify the instru-
ment performance pre-
dicted by the Expo-
sure Time Calculators
The procedures for
CCD characterisation
are based on the MI-
DAS CCD package.
Bias and flat-field ex-
posures with differ-
ent illumination levels
are analysed to verify
the CCD sensitivity
and linearity maps.
Usually a set of twen-
ty-four exposures, six
biases and nine pairs
of screen flats expo-
sures, each pair taken
with the same expo-
sure time, are used
to determine several
CCD parameters. For
the 1×1 binned flat- Figure 5: Left-hand-side panels: Vertical (cross-dispersion) shifts Y against temperature T for the blue (top)
and red (bottom) gratings. For four of the 2 11 standard settings, Y (blue triangles) and T (red circles) are
field exposures, the plotted over time to monitor their trending. Right-hand-side panels: A composite diagram includes the two
intensities are meas- boxes on the right to visualise the thermal drifts of all gratings. The sudden non-thermal shift by more than
ured in nine reference 10 pixels on the detector of the blue arm was caused by the May 12, 2000 earthquake.

Figure 6: QC plot for a blue reduced science frame. See text in Section 5 for details of the plot.

tracings permit an immediate check Gbytes of data and including more than project responsible, H. Dekker, and the
on the quality of the extraction. 4000 science frames. About half of UVES optical designer, B. Delabre,
4. Three spectral windows show en- these frames have been taken in serv- who provided many essential contribu-
larged portions of the full spectrum ice mode, resulting in 2640 reduced tions to the design of this package
to check single bins. science spectra and 3852 calibration since the beginning of the project in
5. Histograms of the raw and the re- files produced with the pipeline. 1995.
duced data provide further checks
on anomalies. Conclusion
Finally, three check-boxes (Fig. 6, References
upper right) raise alarm flags when The UVES pipeline illustrates the in-
■ the temperature difference between creased efficiency and stability to be Ballester, P., 1994, Hough Transform for ro-
science and ThAr calibration frame is gained by the systematic use of instru- bust regression and automated detection,
larger than a threshold value, ment models and variance propagation Astron. Astrophys., 286, 1011–1018.
■ the object is closer than 20% to the in the reduction process. The cost of Ballester, P., Rosa, M.R., 1997, Modeling
ends of the slit (check on centring). establishing new calibration solutions echelle spectrographs, Astron. Astro -
To the left of the middle check-box is has been dramatically reduced, so that phys. Suppl., 126, 563–571.
a sketch of the slit showing the ob- quick-look data reduction at the tele- Dekker, H., D’Odorico, S., Kaufer, A.,
ject position and the seeing FWHM. scope is supported for most of the sev- Delabre, B., and Kotzlowski, H., 2000,
Design, construction and operation at
■ the signal-to-noise ratio is higher eral hundreds instrument configura-
the telescope of UVES, the Echelle
than a threshold value (then opti- tions. The instrument performance is spectrograph for the UT2 Kueyen
mum extraction becomes unsafe). monitored by comparing the calibration Telescope at the ESO Paranal Observa-
Currently these plots are used to results with respect to the model and tory, Proc. Conf. SPIE 4008-61.
build up a trending database and to by measuring the effect of environmen- D’Odorico, S., 2000, UVES at Kueyen:
gain expertise for the quality assess- tal parameters (temperature, earth- Bright prospects for high-resolution
ment. It is planned to deliver these quakes). All standard configurations of Spectroscopy at the VLT, The Messenger
plots to the Service Mode observers. the instrument are supported in service 99, March 2000, 2.
The UVES results from Quality Con- mode and data packages are regularly Horne, K., 1986, An optimal extrac-
trol Garching will be soon made shipped. A quality control database is tion for CCD spectroscopy, PASP, 98,
public on the web ( being established for trend analysis.
Marsh, T.R., 1989, The extraction of highly
observing/dfo/quality/). distorted spectra, PASP, 101, 1032–
During the first four months of oper- Acknowledgements 1037.
ations, from April 1st to July 31st, 2000, Mukai, K., 1990, Optimal extraction of
more than 14,000 UVES raw files were Many thanks to the UVES Prin- cross-dispersed spectra, PASP, 102,
produced representing about 153 cipal Investigator, S. D’Odorico, the 183–189.


The ESO Observing Programmes Committee –

an Evolving Process

The Universe and its contents are consultation of the OPC chair, in order load had become quite unevenly dis-
evolving, but our tools to study the to complete the coverage of the differ- tributed over the panels. On the other
heavens at ESO are evolving at a much ent fields within OPC. Panels are or- hand, it was felt that a further increase
more rapid pace. The task of the ganised according to scientific sub-dis- of the number of independent panels
Observing Programmes Committee ciplines, and contain – besides OPC would too much narrow the scope of the
(OPC) is each semester to recommend members – experts, the number of panels and thus conflict with the healthy
to the Director General among the typi- which is determined by the typical work- intertwinement of scientific questions
cally 700 proposals introduced by the load of the panel. Panel experts are which is at the heart of astronomy. The
community those which are thought to nominated for two years, and thus Sun is born in the Interstellar Medium
lead to the best science with the avail- serve during four semesters. The length panel, spends most of its life in the Cool
able instrumentation. It is a challenging of their mandate is felt as a good com- Star panel, but ends as a white dwarf in
task, but also a gratifying one, since it promise between the need for continu- the Hot Star panel, after a brief return in
continually confronts one with the rich ity in the process and a healthy rotation the Interstellar Medium panel during the
scientific imagination of the ESO com- inside the ESO community. planetary nebula stage! With this exam-
munity. This community also frequently The composition of the OPC is pub- ple in mind, it is not hard to imagine that
expresses its curiosity about the OPC lished every year in ESO’s Annual Re- with too narrow a panel definition, many
procedures and criteria to rank the port and can be consulted on the ESO proposals present severe overlap be-
observing proposals. The information web site. The more rapidly changing tween aspects which formally belong to
which is currently posted on the ESO composition of the panels is not made different panels.
web site might not be detailed enough public, in order to maximally ensure the The compromise which was agreed
on the procedures, which in fact recent- independence of the panel members upon, is a new structure with four pan-
ly underwent some changes which and to avoid them being exposed to ex- els: A: Cosmology, B: Galaxies and
needed discussion within the commit- ternal pressure. In fact, in the renewed Galactic Nuclei, C: ISM, Star Formation
tee before being implemented. The pur- system (see below) it cannot be known and Planetary Systems, and D: Stellar
pose of this contribution is then to ex- beforehand to which sub-panel a partic- Evolution; thus the panels are not too
plain to the community in some detail ular proposal will be assigned, hence it specialised, a fact that applicants
how the OPC currently operates. is of little practical value to know the should take into account when writing
Cosmologists need the cosmological sub-panel composition. In the HST sys- their proposals. In order to achieve a
principle to make sense of the evolving tem, the composition of the panels is reasonable workload, each panel is
Universe. A credible assessment of ob- published after the time allocation for subdivided into two sub-panels, both
serving proposals also needs isotropy each cycle has been decided, but such covering the same scientific categories,
and homogeneity: it is essential that a system is not practical to implement which are listed in more detail on the
every proposal gets a fair chance, and within the ESO system, where panel web. There is thus not any more an in-
also that adequate ways are found to members serve for four periods. dependent Solar System panel; in fact,
gauge proposals which cover a wide recent breakthroughs, e.g. on the study
range of science domains. Aiming at a The New Panel System of cosmic dust, circumstellar disks and
fair distribution of observing time has of exoplanets, are truly interdisciplinary,
course always been the main goal of The creation of OPC panels accord- and strengthen the general interest for
the OPC, but putting this into practice ing to scientific domains was elaborat- solar-system research (now part of pan-
within an environment characterised by ed when the present Director General el C). Also, the distinction between stel-
changing possibilities and constraints, was OPC chair and was intended to re- lar projects on the basis of the evolu-
has induced rethinking of the process at lieve the workload on the OPC, which tionary stage of the object removes
about every OPC meeting. Neverthe- faced a steady increase of the number much of the vexing overlap which often
less, the change has been a continuous of proposals, and to actively involve a occurred in the old system, as well be-
one, which builds on the experience of large number of experts from the com- tween star formation and stellar struc-
several generations of OPC members. munity. There has been a continuous ture as between hot and cool versus
need to redefine the attribution of sub- massive and low-mass stars.
Composition of the OPC categories to the different panels, es- The assignment of a proposal to one
sentially because of the evolution of the of the two relevant sub-panels is done
The OPC consists of national dele- proposals when new instrumentation more or less at random, ‘more or less’
gates and members at large, who nor- became available. For example, the meaning that advantage is taken from
mally serve for three years. Each ESO availability of larger telescopes trig- the system to avoid conflict-of-interest
member state designates one national gered the creation of a new extragalac- issues, by systematically attributing a pro-
delegate. In order to ensure that the ex- tic panel in 1997. It also significantly in- gramme in which a sub-panel member
pertise of these delegates is well creased the potential for ‘stellar work’ in is involved to the other sub-panel. A po-
spread over the different scientific sub- external galaxies, and thus had conse- tential problem which immediately aris-
disciplines, Council has agreed in its quences for the overlap of sub-cate- es, is whether the procedure is optimal
June 1999 meeting that member states gories between ‘stellar’ and ‘extragalac- to judge similar projects which occur in
present a short list of candidates, and tic’ panels.. different sub-panels. Therefore, after
that the final designation is co-ordinat- During the OPC meeting of Decem- the panel meetings, unnecessary over-
ed with ESO. The OPC chair is chosen ber 1999 it was agreed that a major re- lap of subjects and objects is identified,
among these national delegates. Mem- definition was in order. The evolution of and the results of the deliberations are
bers at large are chosen by ESO, after the proposals was such that the work- compared. Experience shows that the

issue is more academic than real.
Table 1. Time schedule for the OPC operations.
Moreover, it is a fact of life that individ-
ual biases affect any kind of evaluation
if one wants this evaluation to be done Date Event
by experts. The only solution is to aver-
April 1, October 1 Deadline for submission of proposals
age out these biases by rotating panel
April 15, October 15 Proposals arrive at the referees
members regularly, and a dual panel sys- May 1, November 1 Proposal cards are issued to the referees
tem also effectively contributes to this. May 23, November 23 Deadline for evaluations to be sent to ESO
June 1, December 1 Start of OPC meeting
Activities Before the OPC June 20, December 20 Finalisation of comments on proposals
Despite the facts that applicants tend
to wait until the very last minutes before Before an OPC meeting, 30% of the tionale behind the recommendations
the deadline expires and that some 700 time available on each telescope is set was. An issue with which OPC has
proposals typically have to be treated, aside as a pool for large programmes, struggled for a long time, and which the
the Visiting Astronomers Office contin- so as to make sure that the awarding of Users Committee has often put on its
ues to manage to ship the proposals to a large programme has no adverse ef- agenda, is the redaction of exhaustive
the OPC and panel members within two fect on the fraction of time reserved for comments for every proposal. It may be
weeks after the deadline. To each pro- the regular programmes of a panel. The useful information for brain researchers
posal three referees are assigned, from selection of large programmes is then to know that it is not easy for the mind
which the primary referee is expected to the responsibility of the full OPC. On the of a panelist to formulate a detailed
summarise the proposal at the meeting; other hand, a selection of such pro- comment immediately after the discus-
all proposals in a sub-panel are expect- grammes by the OPC without the ad- sion of a proposal: analytical and syn-
ed to be read by every member, how- vice of the panels where the experts in thetic thinking appears to reside in
ever. Two weeks are then given to the the field reside, is clearly not wanted. widely separate places in the brain! The
referees to identify unnoticed conflicts Therefore, the first day of the OPC redaction of comments slows the panel
of interest and proposals that have meeting is devoted to a discussion with- discussions, which already occur under
been submitted to the wrong panel. in OPC of the large-programme pro- some time pressure, considerably. But,
When the replies have been received, posals, which results in a pre-selec- clearly the request by the community of
corrections are made, and report cards tion which is then presented to the detailed explanations is sound. The solu-
are mailed to the referees on which panels during days 2 and 3 of the meet- tion which is now adopted, is to charge
these should write their grades and ing. During the last two days of the OPC the primary referees with noting the re-
comments. week, the reports by the panels are dis- marks by the individual referees and to
Before the meeting, documents are cussed, and the OPC proceeds to the fi- summarise them by writing comments
produced which summarise the evalua- nal selection of large programmes. after the meeting, in time for ESO to in-
tions by the referees. It should be A similar procedure is followed for the clude them in the email messages to
stressed that these documents are of a selection of Target of Opportunity (ToO) the applicants who did not get time.
preliminary nature: they essentially proposals. Such programmes by defini- While in principle panel members
serve to prepare the panel meetings, tion get override status and thus need have an idea about the total observing
during which all panel members are to be of high scientific priority in order to time they can dispose on, the essential
expected to intervene on every pro- be recommended for scheduling. More- result of their deliberation is the ranking
posal. In order to minimise the bias over, by nature they most often concern of the proposals. During the final selec-
introduced by a specific referee, it is the ‘Stellar Evolution’ panel, and if con- tion of the proposals during days 4 and
recommended to the panel chairs not to sidered as regular programmes would 5, the OPC respects the ranking of the
discuss the proposals in the order of bias too much the time allocation for proposals made by the panels. The
the average preliminary grades. Tech- this panel. During the first day of the main task of the OPC is then to deter-
nical assessment about proposals is OPC meeting, the ToO proposals are mine the cut-off line which delimits rec-
provided by ESO staff upon request by pre-discussed within OPC, and their fi- ommended from not recommended pro-
suspicious referees. nal allocation is decided upon after they posals. The word ‘recommended’ de-
have been reviewed in the relevant serves to be repeated, since the final at-
Working Procedure for Large panels. tribution of time is the full responsibility
Programmes and Target of of the Director General, who has to take
Opportunity Programmes Working Procedure for Regular into account scheduling constraints and
Programmes other technical issues, application of
The VLT Science Policy document the Agreement with Chile, etc. On the
recommends that up to 30% of the tel- The main task of the sub-panels is to VLT, about half of the proposals require
escope time should be attributed to provide grades and a ranking per tele- the service observing mode. The final
large programmes, and this policy has scope for the applications they re- execution of these proposals depends
since been extended to the La Silla tel- ceived. During the two-day panel meet- on the conditions on Paranal. The high-
escopes. The idea behind is that expe- ings, each proposal is summarised by est rated proposals are safe, but pro-
rience with HST has shown that real the primary referee and then discussed posals lower in the list often can be ex-
breakthroughs often result from pro- by the whole panel. After the discussion ecuted only partially. Conversely, it is
grammes, such as the Hubble Deep of each proposal, a grade is given by useful to know that service proposals
Field and the Hubble constant projects, every panel member, and the amount of not recommended in the first place, but
to which large amounts of time have time to be recommended is settled. which are not demanding on seeing
been devoted. Large programmes are Only when all proposals for a particular constraints, have a fair chance to be
also felt as a way to foster collabora- telescope are discussed, average partially successful after all.
tions within the ESO community: not grades are computed, and a listing of The amount of time which is available
only many data but also much expertise the proposals ordered according to their for regular proposals in the different
helps to make progress! For the 2.2-m average grade is produced. On the ba- sub-panels, is initially set as proportion-
telescope, which is particularly de- sis of this listing, the panel is then free al to the total time requested for the pro-
manded for surveys and other pro- to discuss the achieved ranking and to posals in these sub-panels. Clearly,
grammes which are preparatory for VLT change it. merely attributing telescope time to
science, more than 30% of the time Especially the unsuccessful appli- panels proportional to the total time re-
may be awarded to large programmes. cants are eager to know what the ra- quested, can appear to be an abdica-

tion with respect to discussing the real needs more time than the preliminary nity is large enough to achieve this while
science issues in the OPC. Moreover, amount, it is able to fight for it and thus maintaining a healthy competition. It
institutionalising such a procedure to trigger an agreement on some redis- would be an expression of the strength
might contain an incentive to introduce tribution of time, involving a discussion of astronomy in Europe if the question
fake proposals; experience shows, within the OPC on the scientific quality would become actual to increase the
however, that our community is most of the cut-off proposals. The latter has fraction of time to be devoted to large
reasonable in this respect, and that often occurred, but was not felt as a programmes to more than 30%.
people understand that such an attitude stringent necessity during the last OPC A major way to involve the ESO com-
would rapidly become self-destructive. meeting, which may reflect that the munity in the rich potential of the tele-
Ideally, then, in order to recommend the broad scope of the new panels also has scope park in Chile, is the OPC itself.
highest-quality science, an OPC dis- a beneficial redistributing effect on qual- Several experts, asked to join a panel,
cussion should be held on the relative ity. To conclude, my grateful experience decline the offer because they fear the
merits of the proposals in the sub-pan- is that the OPC consists of scientists high workload. They are right that the
els, and the cut-off lines should be mod- who are open to abandon any corpora- workload is high, but by declining they
ified accordingly. This final adjustment tive attitude with respect to the other miss an opportunity to be part of a most
of the cut-off lines is not an easy issue, panels, but that they are not reluctant to inspiring process. There is no reserved
however. OPC members, who lively re- require specific discussions and formal time for OPC or panel members, but
member the thorough discussions they voting in order to recommend the best participating in the discussions is a
had in their panel, tend to refrain from science. unique way of enlarging one’s scientific
reshaping the picture from much short- culture and is very helpful to learn how
er discussions with less involvement Concluding Remarks best use is made of the ESO instru-
from the experts in the field. Moreover, ments. This way, the panel members
with eight sub-panels, any formal voting After the last OPC meeting, several can exert a positive feedback on the dy-
procedure which is systematically ap- panel and OPC members expressed namism of research in their home insti-
plied for each telescope, tends to be their positive opinion about the proce- tutes and contribute to inspire their col-
cumbersome, and for this very reason dure, and no dissenting voice was leagues in their home country. Since
often hardly influences the result. heard. The dual panel system, which the panel system, involving much more
But it remains true that OPC mem- was adopted with some hesitation, than before the community in the eval-
bers should strive, to the extent possi- passed its first test very well. It would be uation process, was installed, the aver-
ble, towards gauging the quality of the naive, however, to anticipate that no age quality of the proposals has been
science in their (sub-)panel to that in the new evolution of the procedures should increasing significantly indeed.
others. If this did not happen, the sys- occur in the future. Quite soon two more This is my last Messenger report as
tem might degenerate into four or even VLT units with new instrumentation will chairman of the OPC. I take advantage
eight independent OPCs, a situation become available, probably again lead- of this opportunity to express my grati-
which should definitely be avoided! It ing to an increase of the number and a tude to the many colleagues with whom
should be pointed out, however, that widening of the scope of the proposals. it was so stimulating to work: to both
thorough multidisciplinary scientific dis- In order to cope with the steady in- ESO directors general Riccardo Giac-
cussions occur within the OPC for the crease of projects and particularly of coni and Catherine Cesarsky, to the
large and ToO proposals, which con- data, not only the OPC but also the Section Visiting Astronomers and other
cern all OPC members. Also, at the community should respond positively to ESO staff involved, and of course to my
OPC meeting that follows the panel the challenge of accepting to evolve. colleagues in the OPC and the panels.
meeting, each panel presents its high- The large programme concept was de- In particular, we owe much to Jacques
lights to the whole OPC. In general, the signed to increase the efficiency with Breysacher, who is the living memory of
very fact of living a full week together which the VLT could achieve the funda- the OPC and the practical mind which
entails many opportunities for cross- mental science issues for which it was guarantees that the job can be done
fertilising. When more nights become built. Its success will also rely, however, within one week, to Christa Euler, who
available for regular programmes, be- on the capacity of the fairly dispersed for three decades now continues to pro-
cause of the non-selection of large ESO community to co-ordinate the exper- duce logistic miracles before, during,
programmes, discussion naturally aris- tise which exists in the member states. and after the OPC meetings, to the ever
es within OPC on which panel pre- Some efforts are clearly needed to fos- efficient Elizabeth Hoppe, and to my
sents the best case for this additional ter collaborations between institutes in predecessor Joachim Krautter, who
time. Finally, if a panel definitely feels it the different countries, and the commu- made the new OPC system work.

1386. R. Siebenmorgen, T. Prusti, A, Natta and T.G. Müller: Mid
Scientific Preprints Infrared Emission of Nearby Herbig Ae/Be Stars. A&A.
1387. M. Chadid, D. Gillet and A.B. Fokin: Van Hoof Effect Between
(July – September 2000) Metallic Lines in RR Lyrae. II. Comparison with Purely Radia-
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1381. S.A. Ehgamberdiev et al.: The Astroclimate of Maidanak Ob- 1388. F. Comerón, R. Neuhäuser and A.A. Kaas: Probing the Brown
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1382. J. Breysacher and P. François: High-Resolution Spectros- 1389. S. Cristiani and V. D’Odorico: High-Resolution Spectroscopy
copy of the SMC Eclipsing Binary HD 5989: the HeII λ4686 from 3050 to 10000 Å of the HDF-S QSO J2233-606 with
Emission Line. A&A. UVES at the ESO VLT. AJ.
1383. I.M. van Bemmel, P.D. Barthel and T. de Graauw: ISOPHOT 1390. F.R. Ferraro, B. Paltrinieri, F. Paresce and G. De Marchi: Very
Observations of 3CR Quasars and Radio Galaxies. A&A. Large Telescope Observations of the Peculiar Globular
1384. A. Pasquali, M.S. Brigas and G. De Marchi: The Mass Cluster NGC 6712. Discovery of a UV, Hα Excess Star in the
Function of NGC 288. A&A. Core. ApJ Letters.
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Insights from Spectroscopy and HST Photometry. AJ. Observations of Beryllium in Very Metal-Poor Stars. A&A.

ESO, the European Southern Observa-
tory, was created in 1962 to “… establish
and operate an astronomical observatory
in the southern hemisphere, equipped International Staff ROGON, Thomas (DK), Scientific
Applications Developer
with powerful instruments, with the aim of TELANDER WEISS, Christine (S),
furthering and organising collaboration in (July – September 2000)
Division Secretary
astronomy …” It is supported by eight WIEDEMANN, Günter (D),
countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, ARRIVALS Instrumentation Scientist
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden EUROPE
and Switzerland. ESO operates at two ARNOUTS, Stéphane (F), Fellow
sites. It operates the La Silla observatory FYNBO, Johan (DK), Fellow BREWER, James (UK), Operations
in the Atacama desert, 600 km north of LEDOUX, Cédric (F), Fellow Staff Astronomer
SOLLERMAN, Jesper (S), Fellow ELS, Sebastian (D), Student
Santiago de Chile, at 2,400 m altitude, ENDL, Michael (A), Student
where several optical telescopes with di- ZOCCALI, Manuela (I), Fellow
MARCHIS, Franck (F), Student
ameters up to 3.6 m and a 15-m submilli- CHILE
metre radio telescope (SEST) are now in BAGNULO, Stefano (I), Fellow
operation. In addition, ESO is in the BROOKS, Kate (AUS), Fellow Local Staff
process of building the Very Large ELLISON, Sara (UK), Fellow (June – September 2000)
Telescope (VLT) on Paranal, a 2,600 m JAUNSEN, Andreas (N), Fellow
high mountain approximately 130 km JEHIN, Emmanuel (B), Fellow ARRIVALS
south of Antofagasta, in the driest part of MARCO, Olivier (F), Operations, Staff
Astronomer BAEZ, José, Electro Mechanical
the Atacama desert. The VLT consists of Maintenance Technician, Paranal
four 8.2-metre and three 1.8-metre tele- MENDEZ BUSSARD, Rene (RCH),
Astronomer/2P2 CASTEX, Duncan, Telescope
scopes. These telescopes can also be Instruments Operator, La Silla
SCARPA, Riccardo (I), Operations
used in combination as a giant interferom- Staff Astronomer CERON, Cecilia, Data Handling
eter (VLTI). The first 8.2-metre telescope SELMAN, Fernando (RCH), Administrator, Paranal
(called ANTU) is since April 1999 in regu- Operations Staff Astronomer CORTES, José Ignacio, Telescope
lar operation, and also the second one Instruments Operator, La Silla
(KUEYEN) has already delivered pictures HADDAD, Juan Pablo, Electronics
DEPARTURES Technician, Paranal
of excellent quality. Over 1200 proposals EUROPE LOBOS, Claudio, Optical Technician,
are made each year for the use of the Paranal
ESO telescopes. The ESO Headquarters ALBRECHT, Miguel (D), Head of
Science Archive Group MARTINEZ, Mauricio, Telescope
are located in Garching, near Munich, Instruments Operator, La Silla
BENOIST, Christophe (F), Associate
Germany. This is the scientific, technical EIS PINO, Andres Iván, Instrument
and administrative centre of ESO where BOITQUIN, Olivier (B), Scientific Technician, Paranal
technical development programmes are Application Developer
carried out to provide the La Silla and CARBOGNANI, Franco (I), Software DEPARTURES
Paranal observatories with the most ad- Engineer GONZALEZ, José Luis, Cook,
vanced instruments. There are also exten- CURRIE, Douglas (USA), Support Guesthouse
sive astronomical data facilities. In Europe Engineer to Adaptive Optics Group ROJAS, Luis, Cook, Guesthouse
ESO employs about 200 international staff
members, Fellows and Associates; in
Chile about 70 and, in addition, about 130
local staff members. Contents
The ESO MESSENGER is published C. Cesarsky: Successful Completion of an Ambitious Project –
four times a year: normally in March, June, A Midwinter Night’s Dream .............................................................. 1
September and December. ESO also pub- J.G. Cuby et al.: ISAAC: 18 Months of Paranal Science Operations .. 2
lishes Conference Proceedings, Preprints, Message to the ESO Community: Opening of the VLT Visitor Focus .. 8
Technical Notes and other material con-
nected to its activities. Press Releases in- THE LA SILLA NEWS PAGE
form the media about particular events.
For further information, contact the ESO 2p2 Team News .................................................................................... 9
Education and Public Relations Depart-
ment at the following address: REPORTS FROM OBSERVERS
EUROPEAN R. Maoli et al.: Cosmic Shear with ANTU/FORS1: An Optimal Use of
SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY Service Mode Observation .............................................................. 10
Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2 R. Falomo et al.: VLT/ISAAC Images of Quasar Hosts at z ~ 1.5........ 15
D-85748 Garching bei München
Germany C. Lidman et al.: Type Ia Supernovae, Cosmology and the VLT.......... 18
Tel. (089) 320 06-0 F. Courbin et al.: Lensed Quasars: A Matter of Resolution .................. 20
Telefax (089) 3202362 D. Currie et al.: 3D Structure and Dynamics of the Homunculus of (internet) Eta Carinae: an Application of the Fabry-Perot, ADONIS and AO
URL: Software. I. Motions in Homunculus ................................................ 24
messenger/ F. Kerber et al.: Unlocking the past of Sakurai’s Object Using FORS/VLT 27
The ESO Messenger:
Editor: Marie-Hélène Demoulin P. Ballester et al.: The UVES Data Reduction Pipeline ........................ 31
Technical editor: Kurt Kjär
Printed by
J. Gotteswinter GmbH C. Waelkens: The Observing Programmes Committee – an Evolving
Buch- und Offsetdruck Process.............................................................................................. 37
Joseph-Dollinger-Bogen 22
Scientific Preprints (July–September 2000) .......................................... 39
ISSN 0722-6691
Personnel Movements............................................................................ 40