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LABOCA commissioned on APEX

Testing of Multi-conjugate AO Demonstrator

Astroparticle Physics in Europe
Weighing Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies
The Messenger
No. 129 – September 2007
Telescopes and Instrumentation

A New Era in Submillimetre Continuum Astronomy

has Begun: LABOCA Starts Operation on APEX

Giorgio Siringo 1 Figure 1: A ‘naked’

LABOCA silicon wafer.
Axel Weiss 1
Each small square is a
Ernst Kreysa 1 bolometer.
Frederic Schuller 1
Attila Kovacs 1
Alexandre Beelen 1, 2
Walter Esch 1
Hans-Peter Gemünd 1
Nikhil Jethava 1
Gundula Lundershausen 1
Karl M. Menten 1
Rolf Güsten 1
Frank Bertoldi 3
Carlos De Breuck 4
Lars-Åke Nyman 4
Eugene Haller 5
Jeff Beeman 5

 ax-Planck-Institut für Radioastro­
nomie, Bonn, Germany
Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale,
­Université Paris-Sud, Paris, France
Argelander-Institut für Astronomie,
­Universität Bonn, Germany oped by the Bolometer Group of the Observations of astronomical objects
ESO MPIfR, LABOCA is the most complex from ground-based telescopes have to
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, system ever developed by this group. The pierce that screen presented by the at-
Berkeley, California, USA design of this new facility takes advan- mosphere, therefore requiring techniques
tage of the experience accumulated over to minimise its effects. The most widely-
several years in developing bolometers used technique is application of a switch-
In May 2007, the Large APEX Bolometer for millimetric and submillimetric atmos- ing device, usually a chopping secondary
Camera LABOCA was commissioned pheric windows and operating them on mirror (com­monly called a ‘wobbler’), to
as a facility instrument on the APEX ground-based telescopes. observe alternatively the source and an
12-m submillimetre telescope located at area of blank sky close by, at a frequen­-
an altitude of 5100 m in northern Chile. The main obstacle, when observing at cy higher than the variability of the sky
The new 870-µm bolometer camera, in millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths, noise. Invented for observations with sin-
combination with the high efficiency of is our Earth’s atmosphere, which is seen gle pixel detectors, this method is also
APEX and the excellent atmospheric by a bolometer like a bright screen. It used with arrays of bolometers. However,
transmission at the site, offers unprece- is as difficult as trying to do astronomical it presents some disadvantages and the
dented capability in mapping submilli- observations in the optical during day- most evident are, among others, that the
metre continuum emission. An overview time. This is largely due to the water va- wobbler is usually slow (1 or 2 Hz), posing
of LABOCA and the prospects for sci- pour present in the atmosphere, with a lim­itation to the scanning speed, and
ence are presented. only small contributions from other com- that not all telescopes are equipped with
ponents, like ozone. In the submillimetre a wobbler.
range the only sources in the sky brighter
A technological challenge than the atmosphere are the planets LABOCA has been specifically designed
Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (and, of to work without a wobbler to remove the
A new facility instrument has started op- course, the Sun and the Moon). All other atmospheric contribution, using a differ-
eration on the APEX telescope (Atacama celestial objects have weaker fluxes, ent technique which well suits observa-
Pathfinder Experiment, Güsten et al., usually orders of magnitude weaker than tions with an array of detectors. This tech-­
2006) as a collaborative effort between the atmospheric emission. Besides, the nique, called ‘fast scanning’ (­Reichertz
the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastron- atmosphere is not stable and the amount et al. 2001), is based on the idea that,
omie in Bonn (MPIfR), ESO and the of water vapour along the line of sight can when observing with an array, each unit
­Onsala Space Observatory (OSO). The change quickly, giving rise to instabilities bolometer looks at a different part of the
new Large APEX BOlometer CAmera of emission and transmission, called ‘sky sky and chopping is no longer needed. A
(LABOCA) is an array of bolometers de- noise’. modulation of the signal is produced by
signed for fast mapping of large sky moving the telescope across the source
areas at high angular resolution and with field of interest. The atmospheric contri-
high sensitivity: a challenging task. Devel- bution (as well as part of the instrumental

2 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

noise) will be strongly correlated in all see Figure 1), making the correlation re- Technical overview
­bolometers and a post-detection analysis moval extremely efficient. Another point
of the correlation across the array will al- is the large post-detection bandwidth. The detector array of LABOCA is micro­
low extraction of the signals of astronomi- SIMBA was built following the same de- machined on a 4-inch (102-mm) silicon
cal interest from the atmospheric fore- sign scheme as MAMBO: that is both wafer where unstructured silicon nitride
grounds. The post-detection bandwidth is ­receivers are optimised for the differential membranes carry the composite bolom-
defined by the beam size and by the technique with a wobbler, and a high- eters. The membranes are only 0.4 μm
scanning speed; relatively high scanning pass filter is used to cut off frequencies thick and are coated with a thin titanium
speeds are ideal. This technique was first below the chopping frequency. LABOCA, film which absorbs the incoming radia-
tested by the MPIfR bolometer group in instead, is a true total power system tion. Neutron-transmutation-doped (NTD)
2000 with the MAMBO (Max-Planck Milli- (without high-pass filtering) with a large germanium chips (called thermistors), sol-
metre Bolometer, Kreysa et al. 1999) ar­- stable post-detection bandwidth, extend- dered to the membranes, detect the tem-
ray of 37 bolometers, installed on the ing down to 0.1 Hz. Moreover the reduc- perature rise due to the absorption of
IRAM 30-m telescope (Instituto de Radio- tion of the data acquired in fast scanning the radiation. The array is mounted inside
astronomía Milimétrica, Pico Veleta, requires the use of special algorithms a cryostat, which uses liquid nitrogen and
Spain; Baars et al. 1987). The same tech- (Weferling et al. 2002) and the lack of a liquid helium for thermal shielding and
nique was extensively used in the follow- software package ready to reduce the pre-cooling of the array. A closed-cycle
ing years for observations with the SIMBA data was the major drawback of the fast double-stage sorption cooler is then used
(SEST Imaging Bolometer Array, Nyman scanning technique applied to MAMBO to reach a stable operation temperature
et al. 2001) bolometer array on the and SIMBA. For this reason, in paral­- of 0.285 K. The cryostat is mounted in the
SEST (Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Tele- lel with the hardware development of Cassegrain cabin of the telescope (see
scope, La Silla, Chile; Booth et al. 1989) LABOCA, completely new software was Figure 2) and the optical coupling to the
telescope, which is not equipped with a developed, the Bolometer Data Analysis main telescope beam is provided by a
chopping secondary mirror. package (BoA, Schuller et al., in prep.), series of metal mirrors and a lens placed
which is able to reduce data acquired at the cryostat entrance. A set of cold
The experience with MAMBO and SIMBA with LABOCA in any of the possible ob- ­filters, mounted on the liquid nitrogen and
has been essential for the design of serving modes. liquid helium shields, define the spec­­­-
LABOCA, which represents the evolution tral passband, centred at a wavelength of
to a receiver specifically optimised for APEX is the ideal telescope for using the 870 µm (345 GHz) and about 150 µm
the fast scanning technique. Challenging fast scanning technique as it can move (60 GHz) wide (see Figure 3). A monolithic
technological choices have been imple- extremely fast and its control software array of conical horn antennas, placed
mented in its design. The most evident is ­allows new observing patterns which fit in front of the bolometer wafer, collects
the large number of pixels (nominally 295, well to the fast scanning technique. The the radiation onto the bolometers. One
5100 metre high site on Llano de Chaj­ LABOCA beam is 18.6 arcseconds wide
Figure 2: LABOCA in the Cassegrain cabin of the nantor, where APEX is located, on the (full width at half maximum, FWHM)
APEX telescope. The receiver is in the centre of the one hand can make the maintenance and the field of view (FoV) of the complete
picture. Four of the five mirrors used for the optical
coupling are visible. of the system uncomfortable, but on the array covers 11.4 arcminutes. The array
oth­er hand provides excellent atmos- undersamples the sky, with a distance of
pheric conditions for most of the year. two beams between adjacent pixels

1.0 Figure 3: Spectral re-

sponse of LABOCA.
The central frequency is
345 GHz and the 50 %
0.8 transmission is between
313 and 372 GHz.




313 372
250 300 350 400 450
Frequency (GHz)

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 3

Telescopes and Instrumentation Siringo G. et al., LABOCA Starts Operation on APEX

(see Figure 4). The voltages at the edges Raster of Spirals Figure 4: The coloured lines show the
400 scanning pattern of a single bolometer
of the thermistors are channelled to the
for a four-point raster of spirals. The

outside of the cryostat along 12 flat ca-

circles show the measured positions
bles (made of manganin wires on kapton

180 153

149 80
and sizes on sky of all the functional
substrate) going through low-noise, unity
170 175 169

LABOCA detectors.
176 163 73 75
150 76
141 154 183 147 81

gain JFET amplifiers heat sinked to the 200

158 79
161 181 116 130
142 187
Elevation Offsets (arcseconds) 143 139 177
173 114 78

­liquid nitrogen bath. Upon exiting the cry-

162 113
174 135 140 131
166 126 102
212 134 133 112 117
178 128

ostat, the signals pass to room-tempera-

186 110 124
230 144 182 105
104 123
206 214 185 89 115 125
179 127
188 99

ture low-noise amplifiers and electronics.

220 207 209 138 172 103
88 101
204 137 111 107 122
222 245 132 119 118
168 96
208 129

The 295 signals are distributed to four

255 216 219 83 109 106
213 136

93 120 94
240 228 243
256 100
215 97
218 231 5 98
225 246 86 121

identical, custom made, amplification

242 49 82 85
253 223 229 1 6 84
233 87
227 221 210 7 92
251 55
217 71 68 108

units, providing 80 channels each for a

244 249 237 62 90
211 12
258 250 226 48 3 61
239 65
232 69 57
203 224 254 32

total of 320 available channels. The

234 2 4
235 252 45 9 13
47 43 11
247 8
200 199 67 60 70

extra 25 channels are used for technical

236 56 42 10
202 257
41 64
238 31
193 197 39
– 200
66 46
16 52
198 33 59

­purposes like noise monitoring and cali-

21 44 58
188 191 26 29 63
195 201 20 30
38 35 54

brations. The amplification units are

248 241 51 27
24 28
194 34
36 53
22 17

equipped with microprocessors providing

18 40

a digital interface, accessible remotely

– 400
via the local network, to control some of – 400 – 200 0 200 400
their properties, like the amplification Azimuth Offsets (arcseconds)

gain which can be set in the range 270–

17 280.
etc.) and also provides an interface to the scanning pattern provides the faster
At the beginning of each observation, the APEX control software, allowing remote meth­od to obtain a fully sampled cover-
DC offset is removed from each channel operation of the system. age of the FoV of LABOCA at the re-
to avoid the risk of saturation. The values quired scanning speed. In this mode the
of the 320 removed offsets are temporar- telescope scans with a constant angular
ily stored in a local memory and, at the Observing modes and performance on speed along a spiral, in horizontal or
end of the observation, are written in the the sky equatorial coordinates. A single spiral is
corresponding data file, to be used dur- typically much smaller than the FoV and
ing the data-reduction process. The 320 In order to reach the best signal-to-noise can be repeated on a raster pattern to
channels are digitized over 16 bits by four ratio using the fast scanning technique ­increase the sampling density. Figure 4
multifunction DAQ PCI boards mounted with LABOCA, the frequencies of the shows the path of a single bolometer ­
in an industrial computer. The data-acqui- ­signal produced by scanning across the for a four-point raster of spirals, plotted
sition software provides an interface to source need to match the white noise over the measured footprint on the sky of
the APEX control software, used to set part of the post-detection frequency all the functional bolometers of the array.
up the hardware, and a TCP data server, band (0.1–20 Hz), mostly above the fre-
for the data output. The amplification quencies of the atmospheric fluctuation. The attenuation of the astronomical sig-
units provide an AC current to bias the The maximum telescope scanning speed nals due to the atmospheric opacity
bolometers and perform real-time de- for LABOCA is limited by the time reso­ is determined with skydips. These scans
modulation of the 320 signals. This elec- lution of the position information given by measure the power of the atmospheric
tronic scheme is fundamental for the the APEX control system, that is about emission as a function of the airmass
­stability of the post-detection signals at 4 arcminutes/s. The minimum scanning while tipping the telescope from high to
low frequencies. The AC bias frequency speed required for a sufficient source low elevation. Further details on the
is provided by the data acquisition sys- modulation depends on the atmospheric LABOCA observing modes are accessi-
tem as a submultiple of the sampling fre- stability and on the source structure and ble at
quency (usually set to 1 kHz) thus syn- is typically about 3 arcseconds/s. eter/laboca.
chronising the bias to the data sampling.
Before reaching the telescope’s control The APEX control system currently sup- During the science verification run in May
software, the data (about 4 MB/s) are ports two basic scanning modes: on- 2007, the sensitivity on sky (noise equiv­
­digitally filtered and downsampled to the-fly (OTF) maps and spiral scanning alent flux density or NEFD) of LABOCA
25–50 Hz in real time by a computer spe- patterns. OTF scans are rectangular has been determined to be 75 mJy·s 1/2
cifically equipped for bridging between scanning patterns, with a constant scan- (root mean square of weighted average
data-acquisition and control software. An­ ning speed, in horizontal or equatorial of all 250 functional bolometers). In typi-
other computer is devoted to monitor­- ­coordinates. The OTF pattern is typically cal observing conditions of 1 mm of
ing and control of most of the electronics used to map sky areas much larger than ­precipitable water vapour (which corre-
embedded in the receiver (e.g. monitor­- the FoV of LABOCA (i.e. greater than sponds to a ­zenith opacity t = 0.3), this
ing of all the temperature stages, control 30 arcminutes). For compact objects, or sensitivity translates into a mapping
of the sorption cooler, calibration unit, pointing and flux calibrations, the spiral speed of 1 square degree per hour down

4 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

– 48˚ 30�
– 25˚ 10�

– 48˚ 40�
Declination (J2000)

Declination (J2000)
– 48˚ 50�

– 49˚ 00�
– 20�

– 49˚ 10�

– 25�
– 49˚ 20�
16 h 42 m 40 m 38 m
Right Ascension (J2000)
0 h 48 m 15 s 48 m 00 s 47m 45 s 47m 30 s 47m 15 s 47m 00 s
Right Ascension (J2000)
Figure 5: Quarter square degree map observed with
LABOCA towards the reflection nebula NGC 6188. Figure 6: 870 µm emission of the nuclear starburst
The total observing time for this field is only 30 min galaxy NGC 253. The map reveals for the first time
resulting in a noise level of 35 mJy/beam. The map is the full extension of the low surface-brightness emis-
a mosaic of raster-spiral patterns. sion arising from the spiral arms in this galaxy.

to a noise level of 40 mJy/beam. An on- Star formation in the Milky Way ded. LABOCA will help to obtain a de-
line time estimator for LABOCA is availa- tailed understanding of their evolution. In
ble at The outstanding power of LABOCA in addition, deep surveys of nearby, star-
eter/laboca/obscal. mapping large areas of the sky with high forming clouds, will allow the study of the
sensitivity (see Figure 5) will allow, for pre-stellar mass function down to the
the first time, unbiased surveys of the dis- brown dwarf regime.
Science with LABOCA tribution of the cold dust in the Milky Way
to be performed.
On account of its spectral passband, Cold gas in Galaxies
centred at a wavelength of 870 µm, As the dust emission at 870 µm is typi­-
LABOCA is particularly sensitive to ther- cally optically thin, it is a direct tracer of The only reliable way to trace the bulk of
mal emission from cold objects which the gas column density and gas mass. dust in galaxies is through imaging at
is of great interest for a number of astro- Large-scale surveys in the Milky Way will submillimetre wavelengths. It is becoming
physical research fields. reveal the distribution and gas properties clear that most of the dust mass in spi­ral
of a large number of pre-stellar cores in galaxies lies in cold, low-surface bright-
different environments and evolutionary ness discs, often extending far from the
Planet formation states. Equally importantly, they provide galactic nucleus (as in the case of the
information on the structure of the inter- starburst galaxy NGC 253, see Figure 6).
The study of Kuiper Belt Objects in the stellar medium on large scales at high Understanding this component is criti-
Solar System as well as observations spatial resolution, an area little explored cally important as it dominates the total
of debris discs of cold dust around near­ so far. Such surveys are vital to improve gas mass in galaxies. For example stud-
­by main-sequence stars can give vital our understanding of the processes that ies of the Schmidt Law, based on H i
clues to the formation of our own Solar govern star formation as well as the re­ ­observations alone, heavily underestimate
Sys­tem and planets in general. With the lation between the clump mass spectrum the gas surface density in the outer parts
angular resolution of 18.6 arcseconds, and the stellar initial mass function (IMF). of galaxies. In addition to studying indi-
LABOCA will be capable of resolving the vidual nearby galaxies, LABOCA will be
debris discs of nearby stars. Large unbiased surveys are also critical vital for determining low-z benchmarks,
for finding precursors of high-mass stars such as the local luminosity and dust
which are undetectable at other wave- mass functions, which are required to in-
lengths due to the high obscuration of the terpret information from deep cosmologi-
massive cores in which they are embed- cal surveys.

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 5

Telescopes and Instrumentation

Galaxy formation at high redshift Figure 7: LABOCA image of SMM 14011+0252 (left)
and SMM 14009+0252 (right) smoothed to 25 arc-
+ 2˚ 55�
second resolution. Both submillimetre galaxies
Owing to the advantageous interaction of were first detected by SCUBA (Ivison et al. 2000).
redshift and the cool dust spectral energy + 54� SMM 14011 is at a redshift of z = 2.56 (confirmed by

Declination (J2000)
distribution (negative-K correction), sub- CO detections) while SMM 14009 has no clear
­optical counterpart and therefore no reliable redshift
millimetre observations offer equal sen­ + 53�
determination. The noise level of the map is about
sitivity to dusty star forming galaxies over 2.5 mJy/beam.
+ 52�
a redshift range from z ~ 1–10 and there-
fore provide information on the star for- + 51�
mation history at epochs from about half
to only 5 % of the present age of the Uni- + 50�
verse. Recent studies have shown that 14 h 01m 15 s 01m 10 s 01m 05 s 01m 00 s 00 m 55 s
Right Ascension (J2000)
00 m 50 s

the volume density of luminous submilli-

metre galaxies (SMGs) increases over
a thousand-fold out to z < 2 (Chapman et ing of the evolution of galaxies. With its Acknowledgements
al. 2005), and thus, in contrast to the fast mapping capabilities, LABOCA
We acknowledge the APEX staff for their support
local Universe, luminous obscured galax- ­allows us to map fields of half a square during installation and commissioning. For the fabri-
ies at high redshift could dominate the degree, typical of the size of deep cos- cation of the LABOCA wafer, Ernst Kreysa enjoyed
total bolometric emission from all galaxies mological fields observed at other wave- the hospitality of the microfabrication laboratory of
University of California at Berkeley.
at early epochs. These studies also sug- lengths, down to the confusion limit in
gest that approximately half of all the a reasonable amount of observing time.
stars that have formed by the present day These deep observations will also greatly References
may have formed in highly obscured improve the statistics of high-redshift
Baars J. W. M. et al. 1987, A&A 175, 319
­systems which remain undetected in the ­galaxies detected at submillimetre wave-
Booth R. S. et al. 1989, A&A 216, 315
optical or NIR. One example of such a lengths. Chapman S. C. et al. 2005, ApJ 622, 722
source is SMM 14009+0252 (see Figure Nyman L.-Å. 2001, The Messenger 106, 40
7) which is strong in the submillimetre A set of science verification projects has Güsten R. et al. 2006, A&A 454L, 13
Ivison R. J. et al. 2000, MNRAS 315, 209
and has a 1.4 GHz radio counterpart, but been observed with LABOCA. The raw
Kreysa E. et al. 2002, AIPC 616, 262
no obvious counterpart in deep K-band and reduced data are publicly available Reichertz L. A. et al. 2001, A&A 379, 735
images (Ivison 2000). Clearly it is from Weferling B. et al. 2002, A&A 383, 1088
critical to include these highly-obscured apexsv/labocasv/index.html where more
sources in models of galaxy formation in details of the SV programme can be
order to obtain a complete understand­- found.

Left: A view of Comet McNaught, with APEX in the

Photo: H. H. Heyer, ESO

foreground. The photograph was taken on 23 Janu-

ary 2007 when the comet was 10 days past its peak

Right: APEX/LABOCA 870 micron image of the

Horsehead nebula (NGC 2023, also called Barnard
33). The image covers 8.5 by 10.5 arcminutes, and
has a spatial resolution of 18.6 arcsec. The inset
shows the VLT FORS1 three colour image (from B, V
and R ­filters) of the central 6.5 × 6.7 arcminute (see
ESO PR Photo 02a-02 for details). LABOCA traces
the emission of the cool dust, which is however seen
in absorption in the optical image. LABOCA image
produced by the MPIfR LABOCA commissioning

6 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 7
Telescopes and Instrumentation

On-sky Testing of the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics


Enrico Marchetti 1 adaptive optics correction systems for the images of the astronomical objects
Roland Brast 1 sharpening the astronomical images, be- far from the guide star are only partially
Bernard Delabre 1 fore feeding them into the scientific instru- corrected, with a blurring size which in-
Robert Donaldson 1 ment. creases with the distance from the guide
Enrico Fedrigo 1 star. This phenomenon is called atmos-
Christoph Frank 1 In this framework the final goal of MAD is pheric anisoplanatism and a graphical
Norbert Hubin 1 to prove, on-sky, the feasibility of MCAO representation is given in Figure 1.
Johann Kolb 1 and related techniques, and to evaluate
Jean-Louis Lizon 1 all the technical issues as well as to iden- MCAO tries to overcome this limitation
Massimiliano Marchesi 1 tify the key aspects involving the design, by sensing and correcting for the whole
Sylvain Oberti 1 construction and operation of such sys- atmospheric volume probed by the ob-
Roland Reiss 1 tems. served field of view (Beckers 1988). The
Joana Santos 1 process of implementing MCAO correc-
Christian Soenke 1 MAD is not a fully internal ESO project as tion consists of three main steps. The first
Sebastien Tordo 1 it has benefited from the collaboration of one is to measure the deformation of
Andrea Baruffolo 2 two consortia to develop some strategic the wavefront due to the atmospheric tur-
Paolo Bagnara 2 components of the system. A consortium bulence along different directions in the
The CAMCAO consortium 3 led by Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal) field of view. This is performed with sev-
designed and built the Camera for MCAO eral wavefront sensors looking at dif-
(CAMCAO), which is a high spatial reso­ ferent guide stars in the field of view. The
ESO lution infrared imaging camera used by greater the number of guide stars, the
INAF – Astronomical Observatory of MAD for evaluating the correction perfor­ better the knowledge of the wavefront
­Padova, Italy mance. An Italian consortium formed by ­distortion in the sky field of interest. The
Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal the Observatories of Padova and Arcetri, second step is called atmospheric tom-
both part of the Italian National Institute ography and consists in reconstruct­-
for Astrophysics (INAF), developed the in- ing the vertical distribution of the atmos-
The aim of the Multi-Conjugate Adap- strument control software and a novel pheric turbulence at different locations
tive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) is to concept of wavefront sensor, called Layer of the field, in order to obtain a three-­
correct for atmospheric turbulence over Oriented, which will be tested separate­­­- dimensional mapping of the turbulence
a field of view which is much larger than ly on the sky in September 2007 (Vernet- above the telescope. The solution to this
the one typically covered by the exist- Viard et al. 2005). step represents quite a complex prob­-
ing adaptive optics systems installed on lem, since the number of measurable
8-m-class telescopes. After a long quantities (the guide stars) is always
­period of testing at the ESO premises, What is MCAO? smaller than the number of the unknown
MAD was installed at the VLT early in ones (the turbulence at several discrete
2007 in order to evaluate its correction Adaptive optics corrects in real time for altitudes above the telescope). This limita-
performance. Here we present the the atmospheric turbulence which affects tion comes from the fact that, while the
MAD project and the recent results ob- the spatial resolution of the astronomical vertical distribution of the atmospheric
tained during the on-sky testing at the images obtained by ground based tele- turbulence is continuous, the number of
VLT UT3 telescope Melipal. scopes. In the existing adaptive optics available guide stars is always limited to
systems, the field of view which benefits a few, both for natural and technical rea-
from the real-time atmospheric turbu- sons.
MAD (Marchetti et al. 2006) is a demon- lence correction is very limited, typically a
strator instrument aimed at correcting few arcseconds for images obtained The atmospheric tomography problem,
­atmospheric turbulence over a large field at infrared wavelengths. This limitation which is quite complex and requires
of view by implementing a novel adaptive arises from the fact that the distorted some a priori assumptions to achieve a
optics technique called Multi-Conjugate wavefront is estimated by the wavefront simplified solution, has been already
Adaptive Optics (MCAO). sensor only in the direction of a suffi- given in its theoretical form (Ragazzoni,
ciently bright guide star located near the Marchetti and Rigaut 1998) and then
MCAO and similar atmospheric turbu- observed astronomical object, and is demonstrated in an open-loop experi-
lence correction techniques have been ­corrected for this same direction by a de- ment on the sky (Ragazzoni, Marchetti
recognised as strategic both for the formable mirror. In this configuration, only and Valente 2000). The third step is
­second-generation VLT instrumentation the volume of the atmosphere probed to apply the wavefront correction to the
and for the European Extremely Large by the beam of the observed guide star is whole field of view and not only in a spec-
Telescope (Gilmozzi and Spyromilio efficiently sensed, while the atmospheric ified direction. This is achievable by us­-
2007), the 42-m telescope facility whose volumes probed by the light of astronomi- ing several deformable mirrors which are
project is in development at ESO. In fact cal objects far from the guide star are ­optically conjugated to different altitudes
both the above-mentioned projects will only partially sensed. The direct conse- in the atmosphere above the telescope.
make extensive use of wide-field-of-view quence of this misregistration is that The deformable mirrors intercept the light

8 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Anisoplanatism Star Oriented MCAO

Reference Star Off-axis Stars

High Altitude Layer


Ground Layer


Ground Conj. DM
Altitude Conj. DM


© E. Marchetti, ESO, 2005 © E. Marchetti, ESO, 2005

Figure 1: Graphical representation of the atmos- Figure 2: Graphical representation of Multi-Conju-

pheric anisoplanatism effect for a classical Adaptive gate Adaptive Optics in Star Oriented configuration.
Optics system. By means of the wavefront sensor Many guide stars are simultaneously sensed to
(WFS), the wavefront computer (WFC) and the de- probe the full volume of atmospheric turbulence over
formable mirror (DM), the system senses, computes the field of view of interest. The signals from the
the correction and applies it only in the direction of wavefront sensors are recombined and applied to
the guide star. The stars not in the direction of the several deformable mirrors optically conjugated to
correction see a different portion of the atmosphere, different altitudes in the atmosphere above the tele-
which is partially corrected, and thus appear blurred. scope.

from the whole field of view and it is pos- The wavefront sensing concept pre- used. A detailed description of the Layer
sible in this way to tune the correction sented here is called Star Oriented and it Oriented concept is given in Ragazzoni,
depending on the location in the field. A is based on using as many wavefront Farinato and Marchetti (2000).
graphic representation of MCAO is given sensors as guide stars. MAD is actually
in Figure 2. From this concept of multi- equipped with a Star Oriented wave­-
ple conjugations comes the definition of front sensor and it has been used to per- The MAD system
MCAO. This differs substantially from the form the first two demonstration runs of
actual adaptive optics systems which 2007. All the results presented have been The full MAD system with the exceptions
have only one deformable mirror, typically obtained with the Star Oriented wavefront of the CAMCAO infrared imaging camera,
conjugated to the pupil of the telescope sensor. the instrument control software and the
at the altitude of a few metres in the at- Layer Oriented wavefront sensor has
mosphere. As mentioned before MAD will be been fully designed and built by ESO in
equipped with a second wavefront sen- Garching. The MAD system has been
The atmospheric turbulence has a con- sor, called Layer Oriented, which will have ­optimised for providing the best correc-
tinuous vertical structure which induces a first light during the third MAD demon- tion in K-band (2.2 μm) and all the
systematic error in the wavefront correc- stration run planned for September 2007. ­performance has been evaluated at this
tion, due to the fact that, for technical rea- This wavefront sensor, based on a py- wavelength.
sons, the number of conjugation altitudes ramidal optical component, works with a
at which the deformable mirrors can be completely new concept, which allows The main strategy we have followed has
placed is limited. What in practice is done sensing all the guide stars simultaneously been to reuse as much as possible ex­
for an MCAO system is to optimise the and uses as many detectors as deforma- isting hardware and software compo-
correction to be given to each deformable ble mirrors. In this way the quality of the nents developed in the framework of the
mirror in order to minimise the uncor- signal from the guide stars is improved by other ESO adaptive optics projects. We
rected turbulence, both along the vertical co-adding the light on the same detector; also decided to follow rigorously the ESO
of the telescope and in the scientific field but the complexity does not scale as the standards in matters of instrumentation,
of view. first order with the number of guide stars

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 9

Telescopes and Instrumentation Marchetti E. et al., On-sky Testing of the MCAO Demonstrator

being fully compliant with the installation based on a Hawaii2 2k × 2k detector to 640 Hz in 2 × 2 binning mode. At each
of new instruments at the VLT. driven by an ESO IRACE control system; loop cycle 312 slopes are received and
the pixel size projected on the sky is multiplied by the reconstruction matrix. In
Despite the prototype nature of MAD, the 0.028 arcseconds for a total field of view total MAD controls 122 real-time chan-
full project underwent the ESO review of ~ 57 arcseconds. A scanning table nels, 38 movable functions, and 5 detec-
procedure before the initiation of the pro- ­allows CAMCAO to patrol the full 2-arc- tors simultaneously through six dedicated
curement and construction of the main minute field of view, while keeping the Local Control Units located in four elec-
hardware components. MAD passed the adaptive optics loop closed and without tronics cabinets.
Conceptual and the Final Design Reviews, the need to offset the telescope or move
as well as the Preliminary Acceptance other optical components into the light
for Europe, just before the shipment to path. CAMCAO is equipped with stand- MAD installation and first light
Paranal to evaluate the compliance with ard J, H, Ks filters plus some narrowband
VLT Paranal standards for instrument in- ones. MAD was first integrated in the optical lab-
stallation and operation. oratory at ESO Garching where the MAD
The Star Oriented wavefront sensor is team performed extensive system tests,
The MAD optical bench consists of a based on three Shack-Hartmann sensors lasting more than one year, before the
static table supported by a structure of 8 × 8 sub-apertures each, which are shipment to Paranal. During the tests we
which elevates the main optical axis to able to scan the full 2-arcminute field characterised the performance of the
the level of the one from the VLT on the of view to easily pick up the light of the system under different correction config-
Nasmyth platform. The light from the guide stars. The wavefront sensor detec- urations, including a long phase of de-
2-arcminute field of view coming from the tors are commercial E2V CCD39 units, bugging during which we implemented
telescope enters MAD through an optical 80 × 80 pixels, a device commonly used the useful corrective actions to optimise
derotator which compensates for the in existing adaptive optics systems, and both the performance and the operabil-
field rotation affecting the images at the driven by an ESO FIERA control system. ity of the system. A dedicated facility to
Nasmyth focus. After a collimator lens In proximity to the wavefront sensor is ­emulate a three-dimensional, time-evolv-
there are the two deformable mirrors, the ­located the acquisition camera, based on ing atmosphere and variable configur­
first one conjugated at 8.5 km above the the standard ESO new technical CCD ation of guide stars, called MAPS, was
telescope and the second at the tele- and its related controller; the camera im- placed at the MAD entrance window and
scope pupil (see Figure 3). Both deforma- ages the 2-arcminute field of view in used during the full testing period.
ble mirrors are spare units of the ones order to locate the exact position of the
used in the MACAO family adaptive op- guide stars. During operation an interac- In December 2006 MAD successfully
tics systems installed at the VLT (60-ele- tive procedure allows correct centring passed the Preliminary Acceptance Eu-
ment bimorph mirrors). The pupil-conju- of each Shack-Hartmann on the desired rope and in January 2007 it was dis-
gated deformable mirror is supported by guide stars, using only the image from mounted and shipped to Paranal. The
a fast steering mount to assist the mirror the acquisition camera. Finally two mova- system reintegration at the VLT visitor
in compensating for the largest contribu- ble units, supporting illuminated fibres, focus located at the Nasmyth platform A
tion of the atmospheric tip-tilt. This mirror can be inserted into the optical beam for of UT3 Melipal started around mid-Feb­
is also a spare unit from the MACAO sys- instrument calibration and testing. ruary and lasted for about one month. In
tems. A dichroic allows reflection of the this period around 15 people, including
visible part of the light in the direction of The MAD real-time computer provides Paranal staff, participated in the MAD in-
the wavefront sensor. The infrared light is ac­quisition from the wavefront sensor, stallation which was completed without
transmitted and folded down through a wavefront reconstruction and deform­- major problems. In the second half of
hole in the bench, below which is located able mirror actuation up to a frequency of March we spent about two weeks in fully
the infrared imaging camera. CAMCAO is 400 Hz with no detector binning, and up characterising and calibrating the sys-
tem following the procedures established
Figure 3: MAD optical layout. The the year before during the laboratory sys-
MAD Optical Layout Collimator input beam from the VLT is folded by tem testing.
the deformable mirrors and split by
Folding Mirror IR Camera
F/15 focus the ­dichroic. The visible light is sent to
Folding Mirror the wavefront sensor while the infra­- Finally in the evening of 25 March, after
Collimator red light feeds the CAMCAO camera concluding some software functional
located below the MAD bench. tests, we pointed at NGC 3293, a bright
IR/Visilbe Dichroic
VLT F/15 Optical
Focus Derotator open cluster, selected three suitable
DM @ 8.5 Km
guide stars and successfully closed the
DM @ 0 Km
MCAO loop.

Selecting F/20 Focus
From the beginning we realised that the
WFS Objective
Mirror system was stable and reliable, a condi-
tion which lasted for the whole demon-
stration run. The run consisted of a mix of

10 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Figure 4: MAD installed
at the Nasmyth visitor
focus of UT3 Melipal.

half and full nights for a total of 8.5 effec- visible from Earth. Omega Centauri offers shown represent the Strehl ratio distribu-
tive nights spread over 12 nights. This several relatively bright guide stars suit­ tion in K-band (2.2 μm) in the field with
long period, originally not planned, had able for wavefront sensing and it is ex- three different correction modes: clas­
two positive aspects: it increased the tremely crowded, allowing an efficient sical adaptive optics, that is, sensing and
chances of having good seeing; it permit- mapping of the correction quality over the correcting for a single star in the field;
ted collection of statistics on seeing, thus whole field of view. Ground Layer adaptive optics; and MCAO.
allowing estimation of the MAD perform-
ance under different conditions. In Figure 5 is shown a typical example
of the correction performance for a 2-arc- Figure 5: Strehl ratio maps (in % at 2.2 μm) for clas-
minute field under good seeing conditions sical (left), Ground Layer (middle) and Multi-Conju-
On-sky results (~0.7 arcseconds as given by the DIMM gate (right) Adaptive Optics. The useful corrected
monitor). Three guide stars of V magni- field of view for classical adaptive optics is reduced
to 20 arcseconds. In GLAO it enlarges reaching the
The main target selected for the correc- tude ~ 11.5 were used, equally spaced best performance at the centre. In MCAO the per-
tion performance evaluation was Omega and located on a circle of approximately formance is much better with peaks on the guide
Centauri, the brightest globular cluster 100 arcseconds diameter. The maps stars and a valley at the centre of the field of view.

Strehl Map Strehl Map Strehl Map 40

110 5. 110 5.
0 110
3 0 .5



100 7.5 100 100 .5


15 35


. 0
90 .0 .5 90 90
15 17





80 80 80 27 30

7.5 25.0

7.5 .0
70 70 10 70

3 5.

32.5 .0 .5

27.5 25 22




60 60 60

20.0 32
50 50 50 .5

15. 30
20.0 22 .5 25.0 .0 20
40 5
40 .5 12 40


30 30 30 27




.5 .0

25 15



20 20 15 20 .5

10.0 .


3 0.0

10 10 10 20



7.5 .5

0 17 10
2. 5

0 0 0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110
arcsec arcsec arcsec

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 11

Telescopes and Instrumentation Marchetti E. et al., On-sky Testing of the MCAO Demonstrator

The Ground Layer Adaptive Optics this is that some obvious technical limita- A very impressive example of the gain
(GLAO) is a special case of MCAO when tions, imposed by the laboratory atmos- provided by MCAO is demonstrated
the guide stars sensed are the same but pheric model (with a few discrete turbu- in Figure 6, where the open loop and the
only one deformable mirror, conjugated lence layers), do not match the situation MCAO closed loop K-band images for
at the telescope pupil, is used for correc- on the sky (continuous turbulent struc- the same region of 20 × 20 arcseconds
tion. This technique does not achieve ture). This difference penalised the per- near the centre of Omega Centauri are
the peak Strehl ratio of MCAO, but it can formance estimation for GLAO. shown. The open-loop image has been
guarantee a moderate improvement in obtained with ISAAC and the stars have a
the concentration of the light for the ob- During the observing runs, continuous Full Width at Half Maximum of 0.6 arc-
served objects and is a simpler technical real-time data have been collected from seconds. The MCAO closed-loop image
implementation. The second-generation the atmospheric seeing monitors DIMM has been obtained with MAD using three
VLT instruments MUSE and HAWK-I will (seeing, coherence time) and MASS guide stars of V magnitude ~ 11.5 on a
be fed by GLAO modules, which justifies ­(atmospheric turbulence vertical profile) circle of 2 arcminutes in diameter. The
its study in the framework of MAD. for cross-correlating the MAD correc­- 20 × 20 arcseconds region is at the cen-
tion performance with the instantaneous tre of this circle, that is, the closest guide
The advantage of MCAO with respect to ­atmospheric turbulence conditions. A star is at ~ 1 arcminute distance. The gain
classical adaptive optics is fairly clear: ­detailed analysis has shown that both in angular resolution is enormous and al-
for the latter the well-corrected area MCAO and GLAO exhibit the expected lows very close and faint stars in the clus-
(Strehl ratio above 20 %) will not extend performance, weakening with the wors- ter to be distinguished. The MCAO image
more than 20 arcseconds from the guide ening of the seeing, with MCAO dropping was obtained with 0.7 arcsecond seeing
star; for MCAO almost the full 2-arc- slower than GLAO. MCAO proved also and the Full Width at Half Maximum
minute field of view benefits from such a to be much more robust when atmos- of the star images ranges from 0.087 to
Strehl ratio improvement. Another typical pheric turbulence tends to concentrate at 0.107 arcseconds, with an average of
behaviour of MCAO is also evident: the higher altitudes. This trend is expected 0.098 arcseconds. The light concentra-
correction is effective inside the polygon since GLAO corrects mainly the ground tion is significant since on average 56 %
identified by the guide stars, with maxima atmospheric layer and the effectiveness of the light from a star is included in 3 ×
located on those stars and a ‘valley’ of the correction depends strongly on the 3 pixels (0.084 arcseconds). For a total
at the centre, but it quickly drops in the relative strength of the ground layer. On integration time of 600 seconds the meas-
outer regions of the field of view. the other hand, MCAO benefits from the ured limiting magnitude is K ~ 20.5 (3s),
deformable mirror conjugated to the which makes this the deepest ever image
For GLAO the correction behaviour is the upper layer and compensates more effi- in K-band of this globular cluster and
opposite: the performance peak is at ciently for the high-altitude atmospheric ­permits significant increase in the observ-
the centre of the field of view and drops turbulence. The same trend can be ob- able population of the cluster’s main se-
outwards. The absolute Strehl ratio val- served when considering the correction quence.
ues for GLAO are not much smaller than uniformity across the field of view. MCAO
the ones for MCAO at the field of view is more uniform than GLAO in terms of Figure 7 shows a 1 × 1 arcminute MCAO
centre while MCAO is clearly superior for the standard deviation of the Full Width at corrected K-band image centred on the
all the rest of the field. As a comparison, Half Maximum of image size over the field well-known Trapezium cluster, a massive
GLAO had higher performance than in of view, while for both correction modes star-formation region in the constellation
the laboratory testing, while MCAO per- the uniformity improves with the seeing of Orion. For this image three guide stars
formed as expected. Our explanation of conditions. of V magnitude ~ 10 to 12 have been

Figure 6: 20 × 20 arcseconds region nearby the

­c entre of the globular cluster Omega Centauri. The
image on the left was obtained in K-band by ISAAC
and has an average FWHM of 0.6 arcseconds. The
right-hand image was obtained at the same wave-
length by MAD with MCAO correction. In the latter
case the FWHM is often below 0.1 arcsecond, a re-
markable value taking into accont that the closest
guide star is ~ 1 arcmin away. The angular resolution
improvement is dramatic and allows very close and
faint stars to be distinguished. The limiting magni-
tude in K is ~ 20.5.

12 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

θ1B 2–3

– 80

– 90

∆DEC (mas)




30 40 50 60 70 80
∆RA (mas)

Figure 7: Left: 1 × 1 arcminute K-band MAD image ries. Centre: Close-up view of the multiple system two rightmost ones) of θ1 Orionis B; the latest point is
of the region of the Orion Trapezium (north up, east θ1 Orionis B, the northernmost component of the five the one measured from MAD images. For previous
left). The FWHM is ~ 0.1 arcseconds varying slightly bright stars of the Trapezium group. The four bright- measurements see the Fourth Catalog of Interefero-
across the field. It is possible to distinguish several est companions are clearly resolved. Right: Orbital metric Measurements of Binary Stars (Hartkopf et al.
protoplanetary discs as well as identify close bina- evolution since 1996 for components 2 and 3 (the 2001 and ).

s­ elected in a quite non symmetric config- The scientific data obtained during the sources for wavefront sensing will im-
uration. The seeing at the moment of first demonstration run have been re- prove the sky coverage for astronomical
the exposure was 1.2 arcseconds (DIMM leased to the community and are acces- objects, enhancing the potential of this
monitor) and, despite the non-optimal sible to anybody interested in looking technique. The first laser guide star based
configuration of the guide stars, the Full in more detail at the capabilities of such a MCAO instrument will have first light in
Width at Half Maximum of the objects technique (see 2008 at the Gemini Observatory, and
in the corrected image ranges from 0.090 projects/aot/mad/commdata/). quite likely its example will be followed by
to 0.120 arcseconds, with an average of other large telescopes.
0.100 arcseconds. The limiting magnitude Owing to the success of the MAD experi-
is K ~ 19 for an exposure time of 300 sec- ment, ESO decided to grant two science In the case of the E-ELT, the MCAO facil-
onds. demonstration runs of one week each ity has been recognised as a primary in-
and has released a call for proposals to strument and the related Phase A design
This example shows another great poten- the scientific community to exploit the has already started in the framework of
tial of MCAO, that is the field of view mul- science capabilities of the prototype be- a larger study of E-ELT instrumentation.
tiplexing for imaging a large portion of fore the final dismounting from the VLT.
the sky with very high angular resolution. The science demonstration runs will take
In the image it is possible to identify place in November 2007 and January References
­simultaneously several protoplanetary 2008. Beckers J. M. 1988, in ESO conference “Very Large
structures blown away by the stellar wind Telescopes and their instrumentation”,
of the nearby stars. At the same time it is After the completion of the second run ed. M.-H. Hulrich, 693
possible to distinguish several binary or MAD will be dismounted and shipped Gilmozzi R. and Spyromilio J. 2007, The Messenger
127, 11
multiple stars and measure their positions back to Garching for reintegration. The Hartkopf W. I., McAlister H. A. and Mason B. D.
with very high accuracy. As an example, system will then be available to any re- 2001, AJ 122, 3480
in Figure 7 is shown the orbital evolution search group interested in performing Marchetti E. et al. 2006, SPIE 6272, 21M
for the components 2 and 3 of the mul­ further and more detailed tests in view of Ragazzoni R., Marchetti E. and Rigaut F. 1999,
A&A 342, L53
tiple system θ1 Orionis B, consisting of at future applications. Ragazzoni R., Marchetti E. and Valente G. 2000,
least five stars mutually orbiting around Nature 403, 54
each other. The position measured with Ragazzoni R., Farinato J. and Marchetti E. 2000,
MAD together with the ones previously The future of MCAO SPIE 4007, 1076
Vernet-Viard E. et al. 2005, Opt. Eng. 44, 6601
obtained, both with adaptive optics and
speckle interferometry, range over a total The scientific impact of MCAO has been
span of 11 years and show a clear trend recognised to be valuable both for Gal­
in motion suggesting a very long-period actic and extragalactic astrophysics. The
orbit. capability to add Laser Guide Stars as

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 13

Telescopes and Instrumentation

Circular Polarimetry Now Offered at EFOSC2

Ivo Saviane 1 (CV), asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars, nary measurements have shown that the
Vilppu Piirola 2, 5 magnetic white dwarf (WD) stars, Ga­ instrumental linear polarisation is less
Stefano Bagnulo 3 lactic super star clusters), to active galax- than 0.1% at field centre, and about 0.4 %
Lorenzo Monaco1 ies (Seyfert, active galactic nuclei (AGN), at the edge, while FORS1 has an instru-
Damien Hutsemekers 4 ­BL-Lacs), and interacting galaxies. The ment linear polarisation reaching 1.5 % at
Seppo Katajainen 2 proposals came from seven countries the edges.
Harry Lehto 2 (Finland, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Italy,
Tommi Vornanen 2 Chile, and France), and ten institutes A copy of the current polarimetry unit
Andrei Berdyugin 2 ­altogether (just counting the PIs). For this was then built, to house a new quarter
Pasi Hakala 2 reason, more than one year ago it ap- wavelength (l/4) retarder plate in a safe
peared that expanding the polarimetric way. This allows to easily exchange the
capabilities of EFOSC2 would meet a two units, making operations relatively
ESO substantial demand of the European as- easy (see Figure 1). Exchanging the two
 uorla Observatory, University of Turku
T tronomical community. units only requires a few minutes, and
Piikkiö, Finland in terms of both control software and ob-
Armagh Observatory, Armagh, Northern In April 2006 a proposal for a new polari- serving templates, the operation is com-
Ireland metric unit was then submitted to the Di- pletely transparent. The super-achromatic
University of Liège, Belgium rector of the La Silla Paranal Observatory, quarter wave retarder plate (of 50 mm
Vatican Observatory, Città del Vaticano, and it was accepted shortly afterwards. ­diameter × 12 mm thickness) was pur-
Rome, Italy The proposal was to offer the pos­sibility chased from Astro­pribor Kiev at a special
to measure circular polarimetry with price, due to some minor defects of the
EFOSC2 in addition to the available linear glass, which do not compromise the
Starting from period P79, circular po­ polarimetry. EFOSC2 has a couple of ad- quality of the measurements. Having two
larimetry measurements can be carried vantages compared to FORS1. First, mutually exclusive units means that linear
out with EFOSC2 at the ESO 3.6-m ­recently we have been able to offer fast and circular polarisation will have to
­telescope. Here we describe the moti- imaging polarimetry of point sources, be measured in two consecutive nights,
vations behind the upgrade of the in- reaching a sample rate of 12 sec (plus ex- if required, but this is not a concern for
strument, and a few results from the posure time), thanks to the possibility to most scientific cases. If absolutely needed
commissioning runs are used to show read only a corner of the CCD, and to the linear and circular polarisation can be
the excellent performance of the new faster retarder plate rotation. This is an measured simultaneously with the l/4
polarimetry unit. essential requirement for example in the plate (rotated in 22.5 ˚ steps), but then with
case of ‘intermediate polar’ cataclysmic only 50 % efficiency for linear, and 70 %
variables, since circular polarisation origi- efficiency for circular polarisation. The old
Reasons for having the new EFOSC2 nates close to the shock region near the and new units are displayed in Figure 1.
mode surface of the fast spinning WD. In some
cases significant variations can occur in
Polarisation originates whenever any kind a few minutes (e.g. GG Leo where circu- Commissioning and science verification
of anisotropy occurs in the radiative lar polarisation rises from zero to + 20%
source, e. g., scattering by matter, pres- in about 10 minutes). Furthermore, longer Due to the major problem with the dome
ence of collimated beams of particles, observing runs are easier to obtain at of the 3.6-m telescope (see the article
presence of a magnetic field, and so forth. La Silla, allowing monitoring programmes by Ihle et al. on page 18), which absorbed
Thus it occurs in many different physical to be carried out. Note also that prelimi- most of the resources of the mechanical
processes of emission of photons, and
in many different kinds of astrophysical
objects. Therefore, instruments offering
imaging and/or spectro-polarimetry are of
interest to a broad astronomical audi-
ence. Indeed there has been a recent in-
crease in the pressure on the polarimetric
modes of both FORS1 at the VLT and
EFOSC2 at the ESO 3.6-m telescopes.
Just in the two ESO periods P77 and
P78, about 1/3 of the EFOSC2 proposals
asked for the polarimetric mode, and
the subjects ranged from Solar System
objects (comets and Near-Earth Objects),
to planets and dust in nearby stars,
to stars in the Galaxy and the Magellanic Figure 1: A photograph
of the old (left) and new
Clouds (magnetic cataclysmic variables (right) polarimetry units.

14 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

workshop, the fabrication of the unit suf- Figure 2: Circular polarisation curve
V1432 Aql over the WD spin period in the asyn-
fered a delay, and it was not ready at
chronous polar V1432 Aql.
the very start of P79. So for the first com- 1.0
missioning, which was done in March,
the observations were done with the l/4

Pc %
plate housed in the old unit. However the 0.0
unit was ready for the second commis-
sioning which happened in April, and just –1.0
before the first visitor run. Several sci­
entific and calibration targets were ob-
served, and we illustrate here only a
few cases. Results for another target ob- 0.0 0.5 1.0
served in June are also included. Phase

Circular polarimetry of the asynchronous seen in the XMM-Newton and the ASCA
Polarimetry standards polar V1432 Aql light curves requires three hot spots on
the surface of the white dwarf (Rana et al.
During the second commissioning night Polars (AM Her objects) are a subclass of 2005). These peculiarities make V1432
on 17 April, several standard stars and magnetic cataclysmic variables (mCVs) Aql an important object for further study.
science targets were observed. In partic- and consist of a highly magnetic (B = 10–
ular imaging polarimetry in broadband 200 MG) WD accreting matter from a Circular spectro-polarimetry of V1432
­filters (BVRi ) was obtained for the mag- low-mass companion. The WD rotates was carried out with EFOSC2 on 28 June
netic WD LP790-29, and the data were synchronously (or nearly so) with the 2007. Figure 2 shows the variations of
analysed with the following result: VB = ­orbital motion. The strong field of the WD broadband optical circular polarisation
5.50 ± 0.07 %, V V = 7.10 ± 0.05 %, VR = prevents the formation of an accretion over the 3.4 hr spin period of the WD.
9.28 ± 0.04 %, Vi = 7.12 ± 0.06 %. This is disc. Instead, the matter is channelled Fast excursions of positive (right handed)
consistent with West (1989), who meas- along the field lines, and flows onto the and negative circular polarisation are
ured VB = 5 %, V V = 6.5 % and VR = 10 %. WD surface through accretion columns seen, as the visibility of the cyclotron emis-
Another test was done by measuring (see e.g. Cropper 1990, for a review). sion regions on the spinning WD, and the
­Hiltner 652, a highly linearly polarised The temperature of the accretion shock is angle between our line of sight and the
standard star. In this case we should Te ~ 10–40 keV, and the mildly relativistic magnetic field lines, change. The shape
measure null circular polarisation, and in- electrons of the hot magnetised plasma of the circular polarisation curves suggest
deed V V = 0.03 ± 0.03 % was computed. emit strongly polarised cyclotron radiation that there are two negative poles domi-
Hence we can conclude that the cross in the optical and near-infrared. nating during these observations, and the
talk between linear-polarisation and cir- field lines at the cyclotron emission region
cular polarisation is comfortably small. Asynchronous polars are important to un- are significantly inclined with respect of
­Finally the measurement of WD1615-154, derstand better the magnetic braking the normal to the WD, i.e., accretion takes
an unpolarised standard, gives V V = 0.03 mechanism, which re-synchronises the place onto the WD relatively far from the
± 0.05 %, a result indeed consistent with WD with the orbital motion very rapidly magnetic poles. The accretion geometry
zero polarisation. (Ts < 100–1000 yr) after nova eruptions also changes during the 50-day beat pe-
(e.g. V1500 Cyg, BY Cam, V1432 Aql). An riod of the WD spin and orbital periods.
As an additional test, LP790-29 was re- especially interesting system is V1432 Aql These results demonstrate that circular
peated with the retarder plate at slight- (see e.g. Staubert et al. 2003; Rana et al. polarimetry is an efficient tool for probing
ly different angles with respect to the 2005; Andronov et al. 2006). It is unique the magnetic field and accretion geome-
adopted reference, and it was found that among asynchronous polars in the sense try in mCVs, and that EFOSC2 can detect
a few degrees of difference do not have a that the white dwarf spin period is about variations of circular polarisation of the
significant impact on the measurements. 0.3 % longer than the binary orbital cycle. order of 0.1 % or less.
During the first visitor night LP790-20 This is against the earlier plausible expla-
and WD1615-154 were observed again, nation that synchronism in polars is
obtaining consistent results: V V = 7.07 ­broken by transfer of a small amount of Spectro-polarimetry of the magnetic
± 0.09 % for LP790-29 and V V = 0.00 ± orbital angular momentum during the WD G99-37
0.04 % for WD1615-154. The linear-circu- common-envelope phase of a nova erup-
lar polarisation cross-talk was checked tion, which should speed up the WD For the science verification, a number of
again with the highly linearly polarised spin, as seen e.g. in V1500 Cyg = Nova targets were selected with known circular
standards Vela 1 95 and HD 155197, with Cygni 1975 (Schmidt, Liebert and Stock- polarisation properties. One of the most
results V V = + 0.03 ± 0.05 % and V V = man 1995). Another possible mechanism interesting objects is the DGp WD G99-37.
+ 0.03 ± 0.04 %. Again this is consistent is rotational braking of the white dwarf Circular polarisation in the optical con­
with zero circular polarisation. during the mass-loss phase by the strong tinuum due to a strong m ­ agnetic field was
magnetic field. The triple-hump profile discovered by Landstreet and Angel

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 15

Telescopes and Instrumentation Saviane I. et al., Circular Polarimetry Now Offered at EFOSC2

Circular Polarisation (%)

0 10

–2 0.2

CP (%)
–4 0

Log Fν
G-band of CH – 0.2

– 0.4
4 000 6 000 8 000 10 000
Wavelength (Å) –10

Figure 3: Left panel: The upper histogram shows

circular polarisation versus wavelength for
WD G99-37, from Angel and Landstreet 1994, while
the star’s SED is shown in the bottom panel. The
400 450 500
­G -band of the CH molecule is visible near ~ 430 nm λ (nm)
in the SED, and its polarisation structure is evident
in the upper histogram. Right panel: the polarisation
spectrum of the same star as measured with the
new EFOSC2 unit. In both panels the G-band is high-
lighted by the yellow shaded area.

(1971), and later Angel and Landstreet quence 135 ˚– 45 ˚– 45 ˚–135 ˚–135 ˚– 45 ˚– HD 94660 with EFOSC2, and measured
(1974) measured a field strength of 45 ˚–135 ˚. The 1? slit was used, together the mean longitudinal field via formula (1)
3.6 × 10 6 Gauss, using the Zeeman effect with grism #7, which allows to cover the of Bagnulo et al. (2001). The result is <Bz >
on the absorption G-band of CH at range ~ 330 nm to ~ 520 nm at 0.2 nm = – 2 105 ± 80 G (see Figure 4) which is
~ 430 nm. The effect on the circular po- px –1 dispersion. The data reduction was fully consistent with the values measured
larisation spectrum is shown in Figure 3 carried out using standard IRAF reduc- during the last few years with FORS1 at
(left panel), and it can be qualitatively tion packages for extracting the two polar­ the VLT (see Bagnulo et al. 2006).
­understoodby looking at Figure 1 in Land- -ised spectra from each exposure, and
street (1980) and the inset in Bagnulo et our own routines to calculate the degree
al. (2001). A magnetic field parallel to the of circular polarisation from the expo- Acknowledgements
line of sight splits the band into two com- sures made at the two orientations of the We thank the La Silla Engineering Department (and
ponents symmetric with respect to the quarter-wave plate. in particular Gerardo Ihle and Juan Carlos Pineda)
central wavelength, and the two compo- and the SciOps engineer Emilio Barrios for their ded-
nents are circularly polarised in opposite The resulting spectrum of the circular po- ication to this project, that has made it a reality.
directions. So if the magnetic field was larisation (CP) is shown in Figure 3 (right
purely longitudinal, the absorption band panel), and the CP structure induced by References
would appear bluer than the central wave- the magnetic field across the CH band
length in left-polarised light, and redder at 415–440 nm can be clearly seen. This Andronov I. L., Baklanov A. V. and Burwitz V. 2006,
A&A 452, 941
in right-­polarised light. As polarimetry demonstrates that useful measurements Angel J. R. P. and Landstreet J. D. 1974, ApJ 191,
measures the ratio (IL – IR ) / I, where IL of this star were obtained, and that we 457
and IR are the intensities of the left- and recovered the ~ ± 10 % maximum values Bagnulo S. et al. 2001, The Messenger 104, 32
right- polarised light, the spectrum of of the CP. Bagnulo S. et al. 2006, A&A 450, 777
Cropper M. 1990, Space Sci. Rev. 54, 195
­circular polarisation will show the rapid Landstreet J. D. and Angel J. R. P. 1971, ApJ 165,
change across the G-band which is seen L67
in Figure 3. This polarised absorption Spectro-polarimetry of HD 94660 Landstreet J. D. 1980, AJ 85, 611
­feature, at the wavelength range 0.42– Rana V. R. et al. 2005, ApJ 625, 351
Schmidt G. D., Liebert J. and Stockman H. S. 1995,
0.44 nm, peaks from + 10 % to – 10 %, so HD 94660 is a well-known chemically pe- ApJ 441, 414
it is relatively easy to measure. culiar star that shows an almost con­- Staubert R. et al. 2003, A&A 407, 987
stant longitudinal magnetic field of about West S. C. 1989, ApJ 345, 511
The star was observed with EFOSC2 on – 2 kG. This star has been repeatedly
the night of 16 March. Briefly, eight ­observed with FORS1 in polarimetric
15-min spectra were taken with the 20? mode during various surveys of magnetic
­Wollaston prism and the quarter wave fields to check the instrument behaviour
­retarder plate scanning the angle se- (see Bagnulo et al. 2001). We observed

16 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Figure 4: The left panels show the Stokes I spectrum
of HD 94660 (top left panel) and the Stokes V nor- 1
malised to the intensity (bottom left panel), in the
spectral region from Hγ down to almost the Balmer 0.8

I (arbitrary units)
jump. All Balmer lines show a well-detected signal of
circular polarisation, and what appers as noise in 0.2
­b etween the various Balmer lines is in fact mostly a
polarisation signal coming from hundreds of metal
lines not fully resolved by the instrument. The right 0.4

V/I (%)
panel shows how the magnetic field is calculated. 0
For a longitudinal field, the circular polarisation de- 0.2
pends linearly on the expression given in the ab-
scissa. The angular coef­ficient is the mean field, so 0 – 0.2
a linear regression of the spectro-polarimetric data
allows to compute <Bz > Q – 2 000 Gaus.

– 0.4

–1 × 10 – 6 0 10 – 6
– 4.67 10 –13 λ2 (1/I) (dI/dλ)
V/I (%)

– 0.5

3 800 4 000 4 200

Wavelength (Å)
Photo: H. H. Heyer, ESO

Maintenance work on
the dome shutter of the
ESO 3.6-m telescope.
Below in the distance
can be seen the SEST
telescope, which is no
longer in active use
(photograph from 1996).

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 17

Telescopes and Instrumentation

The 3.6-m Dome: 30 Years After

Gerardo Ihle, Nelson Montano, Figure 1: The 3.6-m

dome at La Silla
Roberto Tamai (all ESO)
­pictured during unusual

After rotating for more than 30 years,

the dome support wheels for the ESO
3.6-m telescope started to degrade,
­resulting in a shutdown in October 2006.
The engineering process of reshaping
the track and gradual replacement of
the supporting wheels is described. The
rotation of the dome is now returning to
its original efficiency.

It is more than 30 years since the 3.6-m

telescope (Figure 1) saw first light and the
dome started to turn. Through all these
years this telescope has been a flag-
ship of La Silla and a continuous source
of scientific return. The heavy structure, Figure 2: One of the
original dome bogies,
based on ‘classical’ telescope and dome
with the large centred
construction, has continued to operate wheel and rubber rim,
with minimum interruption due to signifi- is shown.
cant failures.

The rotating part of the dome is a steel

structure, built by Krupp, with an esti-
mated weight of 350 tons. Thirty wheels
support the dome as it turns on a rail
fixed on top of the concrete part of the
building. The movement is controlled
by two sets of friction wheels that allow
the dome to move during pre-setting and
tracking, or simply positioning.

But after all these years the dome rotat-

ing part began to feel the test of time.
Seven years ago the failures of the sup-
porting wheels occurred, requiring the
change of these units. lic parts a compound rubber vulcanised water flowed under the bridge, but the
layer joins them, providing the elastic problem still remained.
In 1999 we started the search for a pro- part of the structure (see the sketch in
vider who could help in the repair of the Figure 3). Two lateral wheels centre the A serious problem triggered the shut-
damaged wheels, but without success. dome while it is turning (white in Figure 2). down at the beginning of October 2006,
The company that made these wheels for when a chain reaction of failures ren-
Krupp had disappeared. We could not The quest of finding the right rubber for dered the dome impossible to move. In-
find any European provider who, taking replacement was not easy as the infor- terventions to overcome the problem
into account the Europe-La Silla time and mation was no longer available from the proved unsuccessful; the solution re-
space separation, was willing to produce as-built configuration and the character­ quired a decision to stop the dome for a
the right rubber component for us, within istics of the rubber were difficult to obtain long period.
reasonable costs. from a degraded compound. Only after
extensive investigation did we reach a The wheel rims had completely lost their
The supporting wheels are built with a company from the Weir Minerals group, shape (in terms of angle, concentricity
central mass used to house the bearings called VULCO, that produces spare parts with the axis, deformation of the rolling
and the axis that fixes the wheel to the or special products for mines in Chile. surface, etc.), but so also had the rail lost
support unit or bogie (see Figure 2). A They were willing to find the right com- its top flat surface. The rails had built up
cast rim is used as the rail rolling contact pound, but this proved not to be an easy an inverted V shape section (see sketch
surface and between these two metal- task. Many wheels were tried, a lot of in Figure 4, right). In addition the rail was

18 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

C-C (0.30 : 1) C

Cast Steel
Mild Steel

∅ 650

∅ 200
8 8.7

Figure 3: Details of the


composite structure 82
of the dome support

75 Figure 4: Shown left is

the original profile of the
support rail, and, right,
the rail profile after 30
years of use. The rail top
was machined 1.5 to
1.8 mm to restore the

profile (shown by the line

in the right figure).


Rail type A75 Rail top shape before machining of 1.5 to 1.8 mm

not flat on a plane but showed hills and then conduct a study of the situation After the unsuccessful attempts to find
valleys around its perimeter. of the rail with respect to the enclosure the proper rubber compound for the
shape and relative dome positioning. wheels, a more radical solution to the
The condition of the wheels and the rail Then the re-machining of the outer rim of dome wheel problem was considered:
resulted in unacceptable force during the wheels to the right shape was done, the design and fabrication of entirely new
­rolling of the wheels, creating excessive together with the milling of the top sur- wheel units. Figure 6 shows a cut-away
stresses in the rubber and rail system. face of the rail (Figure 4, right) with the design of one of the new wheel units. The
The failure rate thus began to increase. help of a specially designed milling head construction is based on a double-wheel
(shown in Figure 5) attached to the rotat- carriage supported by friction springs
These conclusions were reached after a ing part of the dome itself. The centring and with the possibility to measure, via
survey campaign of the rail and wheels, of the dome was performed by adjusting load cells, the load applied in the respec-
conducted with the cooperation of Main- the two lateral wheels of each bogie. tive bogie. This is an advantage with re-
tenance and Engineering Departments When this was not possible the bogies spect to the original design because it al-
of the La Silla Paranal Observatory. The were re-positioned in order to have lows a constant control of the load along
close collaboration made possible a res- the wheels centred on top of the rail. All the rail track.
cue plan to correct these problems. these activities took place in October
2006, and gave the first results by deliv- The new wheels have so far been in-
First we had to make extensive measure- ering the dome and telescope back to stalled in eight positions out of 30, and
ments of the situation with a theodolite, the community on 4 November. Figure 7 shows one of the installed

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 19

Telescopes and Instrumentation Ihle G. et al., The 3.6-m Dome: 30 Years After

units. The loading has been recorded

along the rail track and these wheels
have helped to relax the loading on
the other wheels and thus improve the
load distribution of the dome onto the
supporting rubber wheels.

After a long period working in a slow ve-

locity mode, and after 109 rubber wheel
replacements, the dome rotation returned
to the nominal full rotational speed re-
sulting in optimal utilisation of the observ­
ing night. It was concluded that a rub-
ber compound with a Shore A hardness
of 65 to 70 and a breaking modulus of
23–25 MPa was the most appropriate for
these wheels and for their expected
­loading. At the end of this set of repairs,
the dome is returning to the efficiency
that the designers and constructors en-
visaged, and science on the 3.6-m tele-
scope is benefitting.

Figure 5: The special
The Maintenance and Engineering Departments of milling head, fabricated
La Silla and Paranal made possible the return of the to machine the rail,
telescope to normal use with the minimum of effect ­attached to the dome.
on observations. The group of engineers and techni-
cians of both sites in La Silla Paranal Observatory
brought this project to a happy end.

Figure 7: One of the

eight new wheel units
is shown in position
­attached to the dome.

Figure 6: A cutaway
showing the design
of one of the new dome
support wheel units.

20 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Telescopes and Instrumentation

Calibration Sources for the Near-IR Arm of X-shooter

Florian Kerber, Francesco Saitta, Wavelength calibration during the calibration source for X-shooter UVB
Paul Bristow (all ESO) X-shooter operations and VIS arms – also for the NIR arm.

X-shooter has a dedicated calibration unit

We have studied the properties of wave­ providing light for flat fielding and wave- Pen ray lamps
length calibration sources for the near- length calibration across the entire oper-
IR arm of X-shooter. In a novel approach ating range of the instrument. For NIR These lamps are called ‘Pencil’ lamps be-
we are combining laboratory measure- wavelength calibration, the light of up to cause of their size and shape. They are
ments from a Fourier Transform Spec- four pen ray lamps (Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe) is su- made of double bore quartz tubing with
trometer (FTS), and literature data, with perimposed in the integrating sphere and two electrodes at one end sealed into a
simulated data derived from a physi­- the combined spectrum is fed to the handle. These lamps produce narrow,
cal model of X-shooter. The sources spectrograph. The four pen ray lamps will ­intense lines from the excitation of vari­­ous
studied are pen ray lamps filled with the be operated as a single source, that is all rare gases and metal vapours. These
noble gases Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe and lamps, although using separate power commercial products are widely used for
Th-Ar hollow cathode lamps. As a prod- supply units (PSUs), will be burning simul- wavelength calibration of spectroscopic
uct we provide a quantitative order taneously and for the same length of instruments such as monochromators,
by order analysis of the expected prop- time. Hence, the intrinsically different in- spectrographs, and spectral radiometers
erties of the calibration lamps during tensity levels of the lamps need to be e.g. in industrial and chemical analysis
X-shooter operations. Based on these ­balanced by the positioning of the lamps applications. As input for our analysis,
we give recommendations for the selec- inside the integrating sphere and by we used the line data available in the liter­
tion of the best combination of lamps. shielding cylinders mounted around the ature: Ne (Sansonetti, Blackwell and
The combination of laboratory meas- lamps. We have studied the properties ­of Saloman 2004); Ar (Whaling et al. 2002);
urements and instrument modelling pro- pen ray lamps with a noble fill gas of Ne, Kr (Sansonetti and Greene 2007); and
vides a powerful tool for future instru- Ar, Kr or Xe and Th-Ar hollow cathode Xe (Saloman 2004).
ment development. lamps in order to provide a basis for the
selection of the best lamp combination.
Th-Ar hollow cathode lamps
Intoduction to X-shooter
Wavelength calibration sources Modern commercial hollow cathode
X-shooter is a single-target spectrograph for X-shooter lamps (HCLs) are sealed-off glass tubes
for the Cassegrain focus of one of the that contain a metal cathode, a metal
VLT UTs, covering in a single exposure In order to fully realise the scientific po- anode and a fill gas at a defined pressure.
the spectral range from the UV- to the tential of X-shooter, excellent wavelength The lamp is operated by applying a volt-
K‑band (320–2500 nm). It is designed to calibration across all three arms is es­ age of a few hundred volts across cath-
maximise the sensitivity in this spectral sential. For UVB and VIS, Th-Ar hollow ode and anode. As a result, a discharge
range by splitting the incoming light into cathode lamps have been chosen as cali- is formed in the low pressure (few hun-
three arms – ultraviolet blue, visible and bration sources following the successful dred Pascal) fill gas and positive ions
near-infrared (UVB, VIS and NIR) – with operations of such lamps in e.g. FEROS, of the plasma are accelerated towards
optimised optics, coatings, dispersive FLAMES, HARPS and UVES. For the the cathode where they release matter
­elements and detectors. X-shooter will be NIR arm the situation is less obvious and through sputtering. As a result an HCL
a unique instrument on 8-m-class tele- we decided to conduct a dedicated pro- emits a rich spectrum of narrow emission
scopes in that it is capable of recording – gramme to select the best combination lines from both the gas and metal atoms
over such a large wavelength range – of calibration sources for this wavelength and ions in the plasma.
the spectrum of an astronomical target in region, which traditionally has relied on
a single exposure. It operates at interme­ atmospheric features for wavelength cali- The Th spectrum was studied more than
diate resolutions (R = 4 000–14 000, bration. Recently, ESO has gained signifi- 20 years ago in the range from 278 nm
­depending on wavelength and slit width) cant experience with NIR wavelength to about 1000 nm at high resolution by
sufficient to address quantitatively a vast standards in a collaboration with the US Palmer and Engleman (1983). Its emission
number of astrophysical applications, National Institute of Standards and Tech- lines are very narrow and the spectrum
while working in a background-limited nology (NIST) as part of the CRIRES pro­ is rich over a wide wavelength range.
signal-to-noise regime in regions of the ject (Kerber et al. 2007). Currently, there In nature Th has only one isotope, 232 Th,
spectrum free from strong atmospheric is no comprehensive database of emis- which has zero nuclear spin. Thus the
emission and absorption lines. The in­ sion line spectra of commercially availa- use of Th for calibration lines avoids com-
strument is currently undergoing subsys- ble light sources. Based on experience, a plex and asymmetric line profiles attrib­
tem assembly and commissioning is combination of gas discharge lamps (Ne, utable to isotopic or hyperfine structure.
scheduled for 2008. Ar, Kr, Xe pen ray lamps) was envisaged. Th-Ar HCLs are widely used for wave-
In addition we looked into the possibility length calibration of high-resolution spec-
of utilising a Th-Ar hollow cathode lamp – trographs in the visual wavelength range,

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 21

Telescopes and Instrumentation Kerber F. et al., Calibration Sources for the Near-IR Arm of X-shooter

including many examples at ESO such as Figure 1: The Fourier

Transform Spectrometer
in ESO’s laboratory.
detailed account of the properties, design
and operations of HCLs is given in Kerber
et al. (2007). FTS

Two valuable studies (Hinkle et al. 2001; Parabolic Mirror

Engleman et al. 2003) of the Th-Ar spec-
trum in the near IR have recently been
published, but neither is directly applica-
ble to the operation of X-shooter. The Integrating Sphere
spectrum of low current Th-Ar HCLs has
been studied extensively at high spectral
resolution by a collaboration of ESO and
Elliptical Mirror
NIST for the ESO CRIRES spectrograph.
X-shooter directly benefits from this expe-

Laboratory measurements at ESO Ne Spectrum

Ar Spectrum


ESO operates a commercial Fourier

Transform Spectrometer (FTS) (model 800

Thermo 5700) in its laboratory (Figure 1).

The spectrometer is equipped with an 100
­external port that allows one to feed


the light from an external light source to ­

the FTS for analysis. We have built a per- 400

manent set-up for the external feed 50

which replicates part of the optical train

of the FTS.

Wavelength range and resolution were 0

chosen to match the X-shooter NIR 4 000 6 000 8 000
Wavenumber (cm –1), 10 ma 7500 scans (~ 8 hrs)
10 4 4 000 6 000 8 000
Wavenumber (cm –1), 10 ma 7500 scans (~ 8 hrs)
10 4

arm. We recorded several spectra of all

lamps, varying both current and expo­- 600
Kr Spectrum
Xe Spectrum

sure time. Long exposure times are

­essential in order to reach a reasonable
signal-to-noise ratio. Spectra of the four
pen ray lamps are shown in Figure 2. 400


Physical modelling and simulated data 40

The Calibration and Modelling Support
Group in the ESO Instrumentation Divi- 20

sion uses advanced modelling techniques

to describe the performance of an instru- 0
ment. In this we replace the standard em-
pirical method of wavelength calibration 4 000 6 000 8 000
Wavenumber (cm –1), 10 ma 7500 scans (~ 8 hrs)
10 4 4 000 6 000 8 000
Wavenumber (cm –1), 10 ma 7500 scans (~ 8 hrs)
10 4

(polynomial fitting) by using our physical

understanding of the instrument as it was physical model uses the design parame- Figure 2: Spectra of the pen ray lamps filled with Ne,
Ar, Kr, Xe ­observed at X-shooter spectral resolution.
employed in the optical design. During ters. For the purposes of this study it
the testing of the instrument the model was important not only to know where a
will be optimised and then describes the photon of a given wavelength arrives on that describe the quantum efficiency of
instrument as built. This configuration the detector, but also the spectrograph the detectors and the throughput of the
is later used to support the operations of throughput (which we combine with the dichroics at each wavelength. In addition
the science data reduction pipeline. Dur- spectral line intensity) at that wavelength. we include the grating blaze efficiency in
ing the integration phase of X-shooter, the This is achieved via empirical functions the simulation.

22 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

We use a Monte-Carlo approach to simu- Figure 3: Simulated
2D spectrum of Ne as
late the counts expected on the detector
observed with the
array during an exposure. In this way X-shooter NIR arm.
2D simulated data containing many pho-
tons are produced by multiple calls of the
physical model code. In the current pro­
ject, we take the 2D simulated data (see
Figure 3) for each lamp and extract a
1D spectrum along the loci traced on the
­detector array by photons arriving at the
centre of the entrance slit for all spec-
tral orders. As a result we have, for each
lamp and each order, a 1D extracted
spec­trum. Figure 4 shows a sample 1D
spectrum (order #20 of the NIR arm). Full 40 000
X-shooter order #20 Figure 4: Simulated 1D
spectrum of X-shooter
details and an atlas of all X-shooter NIR
35 000 order #20 as it will be
orders will be available in a comprehen- provided by the integrat-
sive report (Kerber et al., in preparation). 30 000 ing sphere in the cali­
bration unit. The lines
25 000 from different lamps are
Wavelength (nm)

Results 20 000

The following results have been derived 15 000

from our measurements for the X-shooter 10 000

NIR arm:
– The spectra of pen ray lamps filled with 5 000 Ne
Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe have been meas­- Ar
ured at a spectral resolution equivalent 1235 1255 1275 1295 1315
Wavelength (nm)
1335 1355 1375
to the X-shooter NIR, as well as at
higher and lower resolution to assess
blending of lines. the situation. For a dispersion solution a calibration system for an instrument al-
– The relative intensities of the lamps based on an empirical polynomial fit, ready in the design phase.
have been derived as an integral of the this could be a difficult situation. Since
line fluxes. The intensities of the Ne, Ar X-shooter will use a physical model to
and Kr lamps are within a factor of drive the wavelength calibration in the Acknowledgements
three of each other while Xe is another pipeline, we don’t expect any significant We thank Anton Norup and the Danish partners for
three times fainter than the next faintest negative impact on the accuracy of cali- providing the pen ray lamps and Gillian Nave and
source. brations. Craig Sansonetti (NIST) for providing line data. We
– No good calibration spectrum can be – The spectrum from a Th-Ar HCL offers gratefully acknowledge the work by Christophe
Dupuy who designed and set up the permanent feed
created from any combination of two a less favourable distribution of lines for the external port of the FTS. We thank all col-
lamps. across the NIR spectral range. At the leagues in the X-shooter project for their efforts.
– A combination of Ne, Ar and Kr pro- resolution of X-shooter, many of the
vides a suitable spectrum for X-shooter faint Th lines in its rich spectrum are
calibration in the NIR. It meets the blended, thus rendering them unusable
­requirement of 10 lines per order for all for calibration purposes. Engleman R. Jr., Hinkle K. H. and Wallace L. 2003,
but two orders and approaches the JQSRT 78
goal of 30 lines per order for many or- The results provided need to be verified Hinkle K. H. et al. 2001, PASP 113, 548
Kerber F. et al. 2007, in “The Future of Photometric,
ders. We therefore recommend this in detail during testing and commission- Spectrophotometric and Polarimetric Standardi-
combination as a baseline for imple- ing of X-shooter, but they will also help to zation”, ed. C. Sterken, ASP Conf. Ser. 364, 461
mentation in the calibration unit. optimise and speed up the laboratory Palmer B. A. and Engleman R. 1983, LANL 9615
– The addition of Xe will only bring a small tests by providing quantitative predictions Saloman E. B. 2004, J. Phys. Chem. Ref. Data 33,
improvement in the number of lines on the performance of the calibration Sansonetti C. J. and Greene M. M. 2007,
and coverage. Since Xe is the faintest lamps. This also has the benefit of reduc- Phys. Scr. 75, 577
source, the feasibility and usefulness of ing the pressure on the very busy testing Sansonetti C. J., Blackwell M. M. and Saloman E. B.
its ad­dition needs to be assessed dur- and commissioning phases. 2004, J. Res. Natl. Inst. Stand. Technol. 109, 371
Whaling W., Anderson W. H. C. and Carle M. T.
ing laboratory integration and testing. 2002, J. Res. Natl. Inst. Stand. Technol. 107, 149
– The region between 1880 and 2 015 nm For future instrument developments, our
(orders 13 and 14) is almost devoid of new approach offers the opportunity to
lines, leaving no easy option to remedy estimate and optimise the performance of

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 23

Telescopes and Instrumentation

Future Wavelength Calibration Standards at ESO:

the Laser Frequency Comb

Constanza Araujo-Hauck1 proceedings of the “High Precision Spec- The standard wavelength calibration
Luca Pasquini 1 troscopy in Astrophysics” workshop sources used in most spectrographs are
Antonio Manescau 1 (Santos et al. in press), held in September the hollow-cathode Thorium-Argon
Thomas Udem 2 2006 in Aveiro (Portugal). There is now (Th-Ar) lamps. These lamps have been
Theodor W. Hänsch 2 a general consensus that an even higher used for decades, because of their
Ronald Holzwarth 2, 3 precision is needed: ­numerous advantages. However when
Andreas Sizmann 3 – for the detection of earth-mass planets pushing the performance, a number of
Hans Dekker 1 in habitable zones around solar-type limitations arise, the most noticeable
Sandro D’Odorico1 stars and/or the unambiguous charac- being: line blending; long-term variability;
Michael T. Murphy 4 terisation of stellar systems with many and the high non-uniformity of the line
orbiting planets (like our own Solar distribution and intensity (see e.g. Lovis
System), which will require a long-term et al. 2006).
E precision of better than 10 cm/sec.
Max-Planck Institute for Quantum – to resolve the currently controversial Prompted by the need to improve this
Optics, Garching, Germany issue of possible variation in the physi- calibration scheme, a group of research-
Menlo Systems GmbH, Martinsried, cal constants as derived from quasar ers from different institutes has started
Germany spectra and to increase the precision to look into other alternatives, finding
Institute of Astronomy, University of in order to compete with space-based that a significant step towards the ideal
Cambridge, United Kingdom constraints from atomic clock exper­ calibration source might be achieved
iments (e.g. from the planned ACES with the relatively new technology of laser
­experiment by ESA), which requires an ­frequency combs (Udem et al. 2002;
A new technique for precise wavelength improvement of a factor between Murphy et al. 2007).
calibration of high-resolution spectro­ 10 and 100 over the present measure-
graphs using frequency combs has re- ments.
cently been proposed. After introducing – for measuring the change of the ex- The Laser Frequency Comb
the basic concepts and advantages of pansion rate of the Universe from Ly-a
this technique, we describe the ongoing forest quasar absorption spectra, which A laser frequency comb consists of
development between ESO and the requires a precision of a few cm/sec ­thousands of equally-spaced frequencies
Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Op- over a 30-year baseline (Grazian et al. over a bandwidth of several THz. It is
tics for a novel wavelength calibration 2007; Liske et al. 2007). based on the properties of femtosecond
system that aims, within three years, to (fs) mode-locked lasers. The shorter the
construct a laboratory demonstrator. One (if not THE) crucial subsystem in any laser pulses, the broader the range of
high-precision spectrograph is the wave- ­frequencies in the comb (see Figure 1).
length calibration source (Lovis et al.
The quest for improved wavelength 2006). The ideal calibration source should The resulting modes of the frequency
­calibration have a very high density of lines that are comb have their origin in the repetitive
uniformly spaced and whose wavelength pulse train of the mode-locked laser.
With the advent of large (and extremely is known from first principles. All the lines The mode spacing, which is constant in
large) telescope collecting areas and should have similar intensity and should frequency space, is given by the pulse
­superstable instruments, high-precision cover the whole spectral range of interest repetition frequency and resides in the
spectroscopy in astrophysics is becom- without blends. Crucially, they must be radio frequency domain. The repetition
ing a very exciting reality. Several areas stable and reproducible to an exceeding- frequency can readily be synchronised
of forefront research have been devel- ly high accuracy for many years. All of with a precise radio frequency reference
oped in the last decade, such as the de- this may appear excessive to some of our such as an atomic clock. These clocks
tection of planets around other stars, readers, but it is worth recalling that a provide by far the most precise measure-
the measurement of possible variations in precision of 1 cm/sec corresponds, on ments of time and frequency currently
physical constants, the determination of the focal plane of a typical high-resolution available, the most reliably determined
element isotope ratios and the proposed spectrograph, to a shift of a few tenths quantities in physics. Frequency combs
direct measurement of the expansion of nanometer, which compares to typi- therefore satisfy two requirements of
of the Universe. All share the requirement cal molecular sizes. Moreover, we aim to the perfect calibration source which other
of very high precision in the measurement maintain this precision over a period of methods do not: uniform line-spacing
of spectral line wavelengths. 10 years, or more! and long-term stability and reproducibil-
ity. The novelty of laser combs has been
High-precision wavelength measurements widely recognised, and the 2005 Nobel
require a high-resolution spectrograph Prize in Physics was awarded to Profs.
with special characteristics in terms of Ted Hänsch and John Hall, for their fun-
thermal and mechanical stability, detector damental and pioneering work in the de-
linearity and reproducibility. The reader velopment of the optical frequency comb
interested in more details can refer to the technique.

24 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

T Figure 1: In the time domain, the Two requirements have been identified as
pulses of a typical mode-locked laser
the most demanding (Araujo-Hauck et
(in red), characterised by its pulse
τ ­repetition rate (T) and its pulse dura- al. 2007): wavelength coverage; and fre-
tion τ ~ fs, are shown (top). Shown quency mode separation. The minimum
below in the frequency domain, the spectral range of operation is in the
pulse of the above mode-locked laser
­visible band, from 400 to 680 nm with a
produces the frequency comb, with
its parameters, the repetition frequen- possible extension from 350 to 1000 nm.
Fourier ­cy T –1 and spectral width τ –1. Ideally, this would be obtained from a
Transform ­single comb by symmetric broadening of
the frequency spectrum with some power
I(ƒ) constraint for the nonlinear conversions,
like second or third harmonic generation,
in order to reach the final spectral range.
τ –1

Our simulations show that the opti­-

mum frequency mode separation for an
T –1 ƒ R = 15 0000 spectrograph, is about
13 GHz. Commercial femtosecond lasers
have typical frequencies as high as a few
Figure 2: Th-Ar lamp (red) and the hundred MHz, which would appear as a
­iodine cell spectra (black) as recorded continuum in our spectrographs. The fea-
at the focal plane of a high-resolution
spectrograph (top), versus the sim­ sibility of increasing the mode separation
ulated ­frequency comb spectra for the has not yet been demonstrated and is
Normalised Flux

same spectral region (middle). In likely to be the most challenging part of
0.5 the lower frame is shown a zoom of this development, due to the high power
the comb spectra for a 1 nm window,
0 where the red solid line shows the required to carry out the nonlinear proc-
5 496 5 498 5 500 5 502 5 504 error array, ­exaggerated by a factor of esses at high-pulse repetition rates. To
25 (see Murphy et al. 2007). date there is no laboratory demonstration
of femtosecond laser sources with repeti-
tion rates larger than 10 GHz (Hoogland
0 et al. 2005).
5 499.6 5 499.8 5 500 5 500.2 5 500.4
Wavelength (Å) The proposed solution is shown in Fig-
ure 3. It consists of a High Repetition
The laser frequency comb has a number In Figure 2 we show the Th-Ar, the iodine Rate (HRR) fs source, a non linear fre-
of advantages over other traditional wave­ cell and the simulated laser frequency quency conversion, and a mode filter cav-
length calibration sources. It guaran- comb spectra over the same spectral re- ity that will be the last step to achieve
tees long-term stability over many years; gion for comparison. The advantage of the desired mode spacing. The latter item
the absolute wavelength of each line in the comb is evident. presents a major development challenge,
the comb is known a priori (i.e. without but has the significant advantage that the
the need for previous laboratory meas- line spacing can be varied to lower and
urements); and it has a very high preci- Implementing a Laser Frequency Comb higher free spectral ranges in multiples of
sion, only limited by the reference signal, calibration system the fundamental comb line spacing.
which could be an atomic clock or a
GPS receiver, depending on the required ESO and the Max-Planck Institute for On account of the common interest for
stability. Another interesting feature is the Quantum Optics (MPQ) have studied the ESO and MPQ, both organisations have
high density and equidistance of emis- technical feasibility of building a wave- agreed to start the research and develop-
sion lines, over a wide wavelength range, length calibration system based on a ment activities with the objective to build
both of which will allow tracing and mod­ laser frequency comb, which could be a laboratory prototype that meets the
el­ling of the wavelength solution at the used in present and future generations of ­requirements of a wavelength calibration
focal plane of the spectrograph with a high-resolution spectrographs. The re- source. This research will focus on dif­
very high accuracy, enabling higher S/N quirements and specification were based ferent key aspects of the desired system:
detection in spectra. on a CODEX-like instrument (Pasquini identification of the high repetition rate
et al. 2006). The conclusion of that study light source, development of the non-lin-
is that none of the presently available ear conversion chain, and the filter mode
laser comb systems could provide all the cavity which will allow us to reach the de-
characteristics required by this applica- sired frequency mode spacing. A Ph.D.
tion, but the development of such a unit, thesis has been awarded on the subject
although challenging, is feasible. at MPQ and a postdoctoral position de-

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 25

Telescopes and Instrumentation Araujo-Hauck C. et al., The Laser Frequency Comb

voted to support the project. The first

set-up for the development of a filter mode HRR fs Source Nonlinear Mode Filter (linear) 13 GHz comb
cavity has been assembled on the MPQ Frequency
< 13 GHz Conversion 13 GHz 400–680 nm
optical bench, and is shown in Figure 4.

It is expected that within three years this Figure 3 (above): Block diagram for Figure 4 (below): Laboratory set-up at MPQ to test
the proposed laboratory demonstrator the filter cavity. The red line represents the laser
research effort will result in a laborato-
of the calibration system based on a path. On the left, the Fabry Perot filter cavity. On the
ry system that meets the performance re- frequency comb. right, the different optical components for analysis,
quirements. A travelling unit to be tested, control and diagnostics.
feeding a spectrograph operating at
a ­telescope, could be available in a time-
frame of approximately four years.

In conclusion, a programme to develop

a frequency comb calibration system
has been established in collaboration be-
tween ESO and the MPQ, with the aim
to provide a wavelength calibration sys-
tem of unique accuracy and long-term
stability for astronomical spectroscopy.
The success of this programme is
­cru­cial to maintain ESO community lead-
ership in high-resolution spectroscopy
and the associated scientific areas of
­research, such as exoplanet detection
and cosmology from high-redshift ab-
sorption lines.

M2 M1
References Mode Filter Cavity

Araujo-Hauck C. et al. 2007, in Proceedings of

the 2007 ESO Instrument Calibration Workshop, Murphy M. T. et al. 2007, MNRAS, submitted, Santos N., Pasquini L. and Romaniello M. (eds.)
ESO Astrophysics Symposia Series, in press astro-ph/0703622 2007, “Precision Spectroscopy in Astrophysics”,
Grazian A. et al. 2007, A&A, submitted Pasquini L. et al. (CODEX Team) 2006, in “The scien- Proceedings of the Aveiro Conference, Springer,
Hoogland S. et al. 2005, IEEE Photonics Technology tific requirements for ELTs”, Proceedings of IAU in press
Letters 17, 267 Symposium 232, eds. P. Whitelock, M. Dennefeld, Udem T., Holzwarth R. and Hänsch T. W. 2002,
Liske J. et al. 2007, MNRAS, submitted and B. Leibundgut, Cambridge, 193 Nature 416, 233
Lovis C. et al. 2006, Proc. SPIE 6269, 62690P
Photo: H. H. Heyer, ESO

A recent view of the

­Instrument Integration
Hall at ESO Headquar-
ters in Garching. In
the foreground are parts
of the HAWK-I dewar.

26 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Telescopes and Instrumentation

ESO’s Next Generation Archive System in Full Operation

Andreas Wicenec, Jens Knudstrup eight disk slots each. The disks used in
(ESO) 2001 had 80 GB and were close to the
optimal price/capacity ratio at that time;
they were filled up with one week of typi-
Considerations of the technical feasibil- cal WFI@2p2 operation and were then
ity and the cost implications of a disk- ready to be shipped to Garching via the
based archiving system to store digi­tal diplo bag. The latter highlights another
observations coming from the ever key point of the NGAS concept, the ship-
growing suite of ESO telescopes and in- ping of hard disks and the full traceability
struments began in 2000. The so-called of the shipment procedure. In NGAS
Next Generation Archiving System ­operational terms, magnetic disks are
(NGAS) started archiving data in a pro- consumables and data can be migrated
totype system in 2001. Now the second freely from one disk to another. In fact
generation of NGAS hardware has been every file stored on NGAS is fully virtual-
installed in the new ESO data centre ised in the sense that access to a file is
and about 98 % of all data since 1998 solely controlled using a unique NGAS file
have been migrated onto disks hosted ID. There is no need to know the actual
on NGAS computers. In addition all computer, disk or directory path where
data currently produced by ESO instru- the file is located. A request for a file with
ments is directly archived onto NGAS a given ID can be issued to any NGAS
hosts both in La Silla and Paranal. Cur- computer available on the network; the
rently the ESO archive keeps about NG/AMS will figure out where the closest
125 TB of data online and the system available copy is available and deliver that
has been scaled up to cope with the copy to the requester.
next data wave coming from VISTA and
OmegaCAM. The last feature of the NGAS concept is
the interoperability of NG/AMS with other
components of the Data Flow System
The NGAS concept (DFS) and other client software or direct
Figure 1: Close-up view of some of the NGAS human users. In order to minimise the
­machines of the primary archive cluster in the new ­implementation impact on both the NG/
The release of a white paper (Wicenec
ESO data centre.
and Pirenne 2000) describing the techni- AMS server and the clients, it was de-
cal feasibility and the cost implications netic ATA-100 disks as the archiving and cided very early on in the project to use
of a disk-based archiving system marked transport media; a highly flexible and an existing very simple protocol which
the start of a new chapter in a quite dif- modular software called NG/AMS, Next is as widely available as possible. Conse-
ferent area than commonly described Generation/Archive Management System. quently NG/AMS is actually implemented
in the ESO Messenger. This story is about The main goals of the whole system are as an HTTP server. All available com-
persistently storing digital observations scalability and the ability to process bulk mands can be issued through standard
coming from the ever growing suite of data within the archive itself. In fact HTTP clients, including web browsers.
ESO telescopes and instruments. The so- NGAS scales in a way so that it is possi- NG/AMS is supposed to be used through
called Next Generation Archiving System ble to process all the data in the ­archive software rather than directly by humans,
(NGAS) started out as an idea and a within an almost constant time. In the and the latter is not recommended be-
­feasibility study. In the first Messenger ar- meantime technology advances have led cause the core NG/AMS does not pro-
ticle from December 2001 (Wicenec et to the usage of SATA2 rather than ATA- vide a real page-oriented web interface.
al. 2001), it was still described as a proto- 100 disks, but that is quite a minor detail.
type system. Early in July 2001 the Data On the technology side we had to change
Management Division (now Data Man- hardware components for newly pro- NGAS requirements
agement and Operations Division) in- cured NGAS computers several times,
stalled prototype versions of the archiving but the first computers installed at La Silla Back in 2001, a new archiving system had
and buffering units of NGAS in the control were only replaced and upgraded in 2005 to resemble the operational scheme of
room of the 2.2-m telescope in La Silla. in order to provide more redundancy the existing system as closely as possible
The two units were the on-site part of an and to be able to capture all data from all and be similar in terms of cost. For the
archiving system we were testing at the instruments operating at La Silla. costs, it is clear that one has to account
that time for high data rate/high data vol- At the same time the NGAS systems were for the pure hardware costs, as well as
ume instruments like the Wide Field moved to the RITZ (Remote Integrated the operational and maintenance costs.
­Imager mounted at the 2.2-m telescope Telescope Zentrum). The hardware includes the costs for the
(WFI@2p2). The original NGAS concept consumable media, readers, writers (if
was built around two basic ideas: use On the Garching side, in the main ­archive, any) and computers. In order to be able
of cheap commodity hardware with mag- we started with eight computers, with to use magnetic disks as an archiving

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 27

Telescopes and Instrumentation Wicenec A., Knudstrup J., ESO’s Next Generation Archive System in Full Operation

media, the overall system has to fulfil a number is due to the fact that at the mo- (UKIRT) in Hawaii and the data from the
number of basic requirements: ment at least two copies of each file are APEX sub-millimeter telescope are also
– Homogeneous front-end (archiving at kept in the primary archive, because the archived on NGAS. In particular, the data
observatory) and back-end (science secondary archive is still in the process from WFCAM poses quite an addition­-
­archive) design; of being populated before becoming fully al load and required a special set-up, be-
– Access to archive scalable, i.e. the operational. In addition also the master cause, firstly, this instrument produces
number of entries and volume of calibration frames produced as a part of about 200 GB of data every clear night
data shall not affect the access time to ­ the quality control process of most of and, secondly, the data is archived through
single data sets; the ESO instruments, as well as auxiliary the network from Cambridge, UK.
– Support bulk data processing; files and log files, are archived on NGAS.
– Processing capabilities should scale The archive system design and the use
along with archived data volume, i.e. of commodity hardware in both the pri- The NGAS implementation
it should be possible to process all data mary and the secondary archive meet
contained in the archive; the goal of keeping development, mainte- As already mentioned NGAS is an inte-
– An economical solution using commod- nance and operations costs low. grated hardware and software solution
ity parts to reduce overall costs. This for bulk archiving, archive management
consideration also includes power With the new VO-compliant science ar- and basic large-scale file processing.
economy, whereby unused servers are chive interfaces to be released by the end This means that both the hardware and
switched down after a configurable of this year, we expect that significantly software configurations have to be kept
idle time and then woken up for a re- more scientists will be able to exploit and under strict configuration control. For
quest, in order to save power; use the archived data beyond its original the hardware this includes not only the
– Possibility to use the magnetic disks as scientific intent. About 1 million requests single computers, but also the cluster
a transport medium for the bulk data. every month are served by the NGAS and network configuration, the racks, the
­archive main servers. Most of these re- cooling concept, the connection to ex­
The main goal of the first point is to limit quests are internal to ESO operations, ternal systems, like the quality control
maintenance costs, operational over- quality control processing and archive processing cluster and the secondary ar-
heads and the time-to-archive. Time-to- maintenance requests, but without the chive, and the compatibility between the
archive is the total time the complete online nature of the NGAS archive all front-end mountain-top systems and the
­system needs until the data is online and these processes would need substantially primary archive.
retrievable (disregarding access restric- more time and staging disk space. The
tions) from the science archive. The sup- new VO compliant interfaces require also
port for bulk data processing is mainly direct access to the data, essentially The hardware
driven by the fact that ESO is already now through web links (URLs). This introduces
processing almost 100 % of all data, a new paradigm for access to ESO data As an integrated system where magnetic
in order to ensure the data quality for by external users, because up to now the disks are to be used as consumables,
­service mode programmes, monitor the data is only served in an asynchronous we had to be more strict in the selection
­telescope/instrument parameters and way and requesters receive e-mails upon and maintenance of the machines and
­provide master calibration frames for the completion of their requests. In the future their components. In particular the re-
calibration database. the data will be almost directly served quirement to use the disks as a data
by NGAS to the global astronomical com- transport medium requires that the ma-
munity. In order to be able to cope with chines on the mountains and the ma-
NGAS archive facts and facets these new requirements, the network in- chines in Garching use compatible disk
frastructure of the NGAS cluster will be slots and disk trays. Since removing
The currently installed NGAS cluster for changed as well, in order to make full use and mounting disks is a very regular and
the primary archive can host up to of the intrinsic parallelism. standard procedure, the mechanics have
150 TB of data, distributed across 24 ma- to operate both smoothly and reliably
chines with 24 disks each (see Figure 1). On the front-end side NGAS is archiving and the parts have to be rigid enough to
In this configuration it is already prepared between 1000 and 6 000 new obser­ perform many mount/remove cycles. At
to start receiving and storing VIRCAM vations every night. This rate is mainly de- the same time the trays should be com-
and OmegaCAM data from VISTA and pendent on the number and type of in- pact, provide efficient cooling and not be
VST respectively, in addition to the data struments operated on the mountains too expensive. The disks are shipped in
stream from the VLT, VLTI, and La Silla and on the weather conditions. Some in- their trays and are then mounted in a dif-
telescopes. As of end July 2007, the pri- strument modes are quite demanding ferent machine, thus the slots have to
mary archive holds more than 7.2 million for the rate of archiving files, which may in be fully compatible. In order to have bet-
individual frames obtained by ESO in­ some exceptional cases rise to several ter control on such details we have cho-
struments (in general one observed frame hundreds of thousands of files per day. In sen a computer selection process which
­results in one file in NGAS). The total num­ addition to the La Silla Paranal instru- involves the specification of computer
ber of files stored on NGAS at present ments, the raw data of the WFCAM in- parts rather than a model. All of the parts
amounts to almost 30 million. The large strument on the UK Infrared Telescope are commodity parts and thus easily

28 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

available from many vendors. The new ESO archive. Thus, in principle, one could There are a number of advanced features
ESO data centre, which was inaugurated retrieve the last frame observed in Para- in NGAS, which are currently not, or only
on 27 July, hosts the 24 machine NGAS nal by just knowing its file-id. In practice, marginally, used in the ESO operational
cluster (see Figure 2). With a future however, this is not possible because environment. These include a power sav-
­upgrade of this cluster with high capacity ­access restrictions apply for computers ing mode, where NGAS nodes will go into
disks and a different RAID configura­- running in the La Silla Paranal Observa- sleep mode and are automatically acti-
tion, these 24 machines can host up to tory. To ensure the safety and security of vated to handle requests and for consist-
0.5 Petabyte of data. the data, none of the operational NGAS ency checking. Another as yet unimple-
servers are accessible from outside ESO mented feature is the processing of files
and even inside ESO only a few machines upon request and the return of only the
The software and users can access them. result of this process.

The machines are installed using a stand- In order to trace the location of every NG/AMS is very flexible and configurable.
ard Scientific Linux OS installation with file in the system, NGAS uses a database It provides 10 different plug-in types to
customised packages, and some cus- which contains information about all customise the behaviour of various parts
tomised system configuration, followed NGAS hosts, disks and files. There are of the system, these include plug-ins
by an installation of the NG/AMS soft- additional tables to control the history which are executed when the system
ware. NG/AMS is written in 100 % pure and the location of disks even if they are goes online and offline, when data is ar-
Python. Python is an object-oriented not on-line, have been retired or are cur- chived or registered, and for processing
scripting language in wide use; for more rently travelling to one of the sites. By de- and checksum calculation. For the pow-
information on Python see http://www. fault NGAS always keeps two copies of er-saving mode there is a plug-in which The experience of writing and every file and this is rigidly controlled and causes the node to go to sleep and
maintaining a rather big server applica- checked throughout the operations. ­another one which wakes it up. NG/AMS
tion in Python is quite positive, mainly be- Without some effort and special permis- also provides a subscription service,
cause of the clarity and compactness sion it is not possible to remove a file if where one node can subscribe for data
of the language. Things like ‘Segmenta- that would result in less than two copies being newly archived on another node.
tion fault’ and the related, sometimes being available, and, anyway, being an
­tedious, debugging sessions simply do archiving system, deleting files is a pro-
not occur and the very clear object orien- tected action. The consistency of the Figure 2: The current 24-machine NGAS cluster in its
tation of the language allows for a clean contents of the database and the files on new location, the ESO data centre. Each of the three
and proper design of even complex ob- disks is checked periodically; this in- racks weighs about 1 000 kg and uses a sophisti-
ject relations. The high-level built-in mod- cludes the calculation of a checksum for cated dual cooling system, located behind the nar-
row grey doors. The cluster can host up to 576 SATA
ules add to a very efficient way of pro- every file. If discrepancies are detected disks. With the currently used 400 GB disks this
gramming, resulting also in a comparably the software sends an notification e-mail translates to a total capacity of 156 TB in 48 RAID5
low number of code lines. to the archive administrators. disk arrays.

NG/AMS in its core is a multi-threaded

HTTP server. The software implements
20 custom commands, where the most
important ones certainly are ARCHIVE
and RETRIEVE. These commands
are ­accessible through standard URLs
of the form: http://ngasserver:7777/
RETRIEVE?file_id=this_is_my_file 1.

The ARCHIVE command supports both

push and pull of data, i.e. a file can be
pushed by a client using a standard
HTTP POST method or it can be pulled
from some other server, for instance an
ftp server, if a URL is specified. NG/AMS
features full virtualisation, which means
that on retrieval the only thing one has to
know is the NGAS file-id and the name
and port of one accessible NGAS server
of the archive in order to access any file
anywhere on any NGAS machine of the

This is a fake URL.

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 29

Telescopes and Instrumentation Wicenec A., Knudstrup J., ESO’s Next Generation Archive System in Full Operation

Paranal La Silla Paranal WFCAM

Archiving Archiving Direct Archiving Direct Archiving

Disk Shipping Primary Archive Cluster

Archiving and Cloning

PA Front-end

Archive Request

QC Processing Garching
Secondary Archive
ADP Processing

For this subscription mechanism there is alone NGAS archiving client and is thus Figure 3: Schematic view of the complete NGAS
data flow. The main data from the La Silla Paranal
a filter plug-in to be able to subscribe not a full NGAS installation. The Garching
observatory is archived on NGAS machines in the
only to data which fulfils certain criteria. installation is a bit more complex with observatory and then shipped to Garching. This part
In addition the latest version of the ALMA the complete primary archive and a num­ of the observatory data flow is highlighted with blue
branch of the software also provides a ber of archiving and disk handling units. letters and lines. The green letters and lines highlight
data flowing from and to the NGAS primary archive
mechanism to register and execute new There are several external applications,
cluster, to post observation requests, quality control
commands. This flexibility enables the which use NGAS to archive or request and advanced data product processing. The black
usage of NG/AMS in many different situa- data. These include the standard archive letters and lines mark custom configurations for pre-
tions and hardware set-ups. The core requests, where the ESO request handler imaging data from Paranal and for the data from the
UK WFCAM camera.
software is completely independent of is the application which executes the
the hardware and can be run even on a ­actual retrieval. The quality control (QC)
laptop. processing is executed on its own cluster vanced Data Products (ADP) processing
of machines and retrieves almost all of the ESO Virtual Observatory Systems
observed frames from NGAS using a di- department. Also in this case a large
NGAS operations rect client. After finishing the process, the fraction of the whole archive is requested,
QC scientists of the Data Flow Opera- processed and the results are archived
As can be seen in Figure 3 NGAS, is op­ tions department also archive the results and registered.
erated at three different ESO sites. Both on NGAS. This involves mainly the master
ob­servatory sites have a small three- calibration frames, but a new applica- The secondary archive essentially is a
­machine cluster, where only one machine tion supporting the archiving and proper back-up of the whole NGAS cluster on a
is actually used for archiving data, one registration of the quality control science Sony Petabyte tape library. A special
is a disk handling unit and one is a spare. products is currently being tested. An- ­application has been developed to inter-
The direct archiving from Paranal and other heavy user of the NGAS archive is face NGAS with the commercial appli­
Cambridge, UK, is done using a stand- the processing carried out by the Ad- cation, called ProTrieve, controlling the

30 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

tape library. Obviously the tape library Garching and data migration, first half study of Schroeder and Gibson (2007)
has to be able to store the same amount of 2005 which essentially states that this kind of
of data as the NGAS cluster and thus – Installation of new NGAS hardware on inexpensive hardware does not fail signifi-
some care has been taken to procure a Paranal and La Silla, supporting the ar- cantly more often than very expensive
scalable solution for this as well. All the chiving of all data from all instruments, hardware. Since now the NGAS archive
hardware for the primary archive and the November 2006 captures all data from the La Silla Paranal
secondary archive, as well as ProTrieve, – Almost all data migrated from DVDs to Observatory and almost all ‘historic’ ESO
have been procured and are maintained NGAS, March 2007 data has been migrated as well, NGAS
through a frame contract with the Munich- really has become the persistent storage
based company Kayser-Threde. The front-end NGAS is not yet fully backend of the ESO archive. The flexibility
­optimised for performance, but the time- of the NG/AMS software allows a fast
to-archive was always shorter than the customisation of the full system to other
NGAS activities elsewhere production time of frames by the instru- requirements, like ALMA and HST, or
ments. The typical throughput of the ar- ­adjustments to different hardware. Quite
NGAS is not only used by the ESO ar- chiving process on the current hardware new developments are the usage of
chive, but has also been chosen by is up to 15 MB/second, including com- NGAS for one of the reference implemen-
ALMA ( pression and replication of the files. The tations of the VOSpace standard of the
alma); it hosts almost the complete hardware used in the NGAS units pro- International Virtual Observatory Alliance
ST‑ECF Hubble Space Telescope Archive vides very fast write access to the data (Graham et al. 2007). As a side-product
( with about 10 TB disks in parallel, summing up to about of this, a prototype WebDAV (Web Distri­
of data; and it is used for the long-term 350 MB/second (measured), thus there is buted Authoring and Versioning is a
VLA archive at the NRAO in Socorro. It plenty of room for improvement of the ­proposed standard of the Internet Engi-
is also under investigation for the Hubble overall system performance. neering Task Force (IETF), see Dusseault
Legacy Archive (HLA) activities (see 2007) interface on top of NGAS has for details) both at One bottleneck is the database access, been implemented, which exports NGAS
ST‑ECF and at STScI in Baltimore. which sums up to a non-negleglible load as a mountable file system (Harrison et al.
on the database server in Garching, 2006).
­because the whole NGAS system is writ-
Milestones and performance ing its informa­tion into the same data-
base. The Paranal and La Silla NGAS da- Acknowledgements
The front-end system consisting of two tabases are being replicated to the We would like to thank especially the 2.2-m tele-
NGAS units was installed at the ESO Garching database as well. With 30 mil- scope team, Flavio Gutierrez and Jose Parra
2.2-m telescope in the beginning of July lion archived files in total and up to many and the La Silla Paranal Data Handling Administra-
2001. Since then, this prototype installa- hundreds of thousands of files on a tors (DHA) for their invaluable support during the
­installation and operational phase of NGAS. In addi-
tion has evolved into a rather big opera- single volume, the queries have to be an- tion we would like to thank the SOS and the EDAT
tional system, which is now archiving and alysed and optimised in order to improve teams and in particular Dieter Suchar for their sup-
controlling practically all data collected the transaction times. For safety reasons port in the design, procurement, set-up and oper­
by ESO instruments. The historical time- NGAS performs many consistency ation of the NGAS hardware. We would also like to
thank Nathalie Fourniol and the SAO and SEG
line is: checks and holds up to three copies of groups for their suggestions for improvement and
– NGAS unit prototype installation the data during certain requests, for many fruitful discussions.
La Silla, 3 to 13 July 2001 some type of requests this high safety
– Start of operations on La Silla, 7 July level might not be necessary and could
2001 be lowered. This has been already im­
– First terabyte of data controlled by plemented on the ALMA branch of the More detailed information on NGAS is available at
NGAS, 18 September 2001 NG/AMS for the data retrieval ­command.
– Installation of first two NGAS units for The performance increase is about a Dusseault L. (ed.) 2007, RFC 4918, http://www.ietf.
the main archive at ESO Headquarters, ­factor of 25 and clearly shows the poten- Graham M. et al. 2007, VOSpace service specifica-
25 September 2001 tial of such optimisation work. tion, Version 1.01,­
– Commissioning and acceptance of Documents/latest/VOSpace.html
front-end NGAS on La Silla, December Harrison P. et al. 2006, in “Astronomical Data Analy-
sis Software and Systems XV”, ASP Conference
2001 Future of NGAS ­Series 351, 402
– Commissioning and acceptance of Schroeder B. and Gibson G. A. 2007, presented at
back-end NGAS at ESO Headquarters, NGAS has proven to be a reliable and the 5th USENIX conference, http://www.cs.cmu.
February 2002 fast system. It has managed many tens of edu/bianca/fast07.pdf
Wicenec A. and Pirenne B. 2000, The Next Genera-
– Installation of the VLTI NGAS on millions of files, where the problems were tion of Science Archive Storage, http://www.eso.
Paranal, January 2004 mainly due to hardware/software inter­ org/projects/ngas/ngas-whitepaper.pdf
– Upgrade of the NGAS installation in actions. Given the off-the-shelf inexpen- Wicenec A., Knudstrup J. and Johnston S. 2001,
La Silla, January 2005 sive hardware used, the reliability in The Messenger 106, 11
– Upgrade of the NGAS installation in fact is quite remarkable and confirms the

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 31

Beam of the Laser

Photo: Y. Beletsky, ESO

Astronomical Science Guide Star pointing
out of the dome of
VLT UT4 (Yepun)
­towards the Galactic
Centre (ESO Press
Photo 33/07).
Astronomical Science

Status and Perspectives of Astroparticle Physics

in Europe

Christian Spiering 1996

(DESY – Deutsches Elektronen-Synchro-

tron, Zeuthen, Germany)

Astroparticle physics has evolved as an

interdisciplinary field at the intersec­-
tion of particle physics, astronomy and
cosmology. Over the last two decades,

it has moved from infancy to techno­

logical maturity and is now envisaging

projects on the 100 M€ scale. This price
tag requires international coordination,
cooperation and convergence to a few
flagship projects. The Roadmap Com-
mittee of ApPEC (Astroparticle Physics
European Coordination) has recently 2006

1E M
­released a roadmap covering the next

12 87


ten years. ApPEC is a corporation of 14




European funding agencies promoting 42

astroparticle physics.


kn S

H 11

50 J1


1 82












In 2002, Ray Davis and Masatoshi





9 TeV


­Koshiba were awarded the Nobel Prize in


6 5 J20


0 3





Physics for opening the neutrino window



A 23







to the Universe, specifically for the de­




tection of neutrinos from the Sun and the




Supernova SN 1987A in the Large Magel-




lanic Cloud. Their work was a unique syn-




thesis of particle physics and astrophys-


ics. Solar neutrinos also provided the first

clear evidence that neutrinos have mass. Figure 1: The TeV AGN Other or unidentified Background colours
­g amma-ray sky as seen Plerion or ambiguous identi- ­indicate northern (blue)/
It is this interdisciplinary field at the in­
in 1996 and 2006. Shell Type SNR fication southern (yellow) sky.
tersection of particle physics, astronomy (Graphic courtesy Binary System
and cosmology which has been chris- ­Konrad Bernlöhr, MPIfK)
tened astroparticle physics.
Basic questions An answer to any of these questions
The detection of solar and supernova would mark a major breakthrough in un-
neutrinos is not the only new window to Recommendations of the Roadmap com- derstanding the Universe and would
the Universe opened by astroparticle mittee ( were open an entirely new field of research on
physics. Another one is that of high ener- formulated by addressing a set of basic its own.
getic gamma rays recorded by ground- questions:
based Cherenkov telescopes. From 1. What are the constituents of the
the first source detected in 1989, three ­Universe? In particular: What is dark Search for Dark Matter
sources known in 1996, to nearly 40 matter?
sources identified by the end of 2006, the 2. Do protons have a finite life time? The favoured solution to the Dark Matter
high-energy sky has revealed a stunning 3. What are the properties of neutrinos? mystery assumes Weakly Interacting
richness of new phenomena and puzzling What is their role in cosmic evolution? Massive Particles (WIMPs) produced in
details (see Figure 1). Other branches 4. What do neutrinos tell us about the the early Universe. A natural candidate
of astroparticle physics have not yet pro- ­interior of the Sun and the Earth, and for WIMPs is the lightest particle of Mini-
vided such gold-plated discoveries, but about supernova explosions? mal SuperSymmetric Models (MSSM),
have moved into unprecedented sensitiv- 5. What is the origin of cosmic rays? the neutralino. WIMP searches focus on
ity regions with rapidly increasing discov- What is the view of the sky at extreme the detection of nuclear recoils from
ery potential – like the search for dark energies? WIMPs interacting in underground detec-
matter particles, the search for decaying 6. What will gravitational waves tell us tors (Baudis 2005, Sadoulet 2007). No
protons or the ­attempt to determine about violent cosmic processes and WIMP candidate has been found so far.
the absolute values of neutrino masses. about the nature of gravity? Assuming that all Dark Matter is made of
these exotic particles, present experi-

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 33

Astronomical Science Spiering C., Status and Perspectives of Astroparticle Physics in Europe

ments with a several kg target mass can 10 24 Figure 2: The ‘grand

unified’ neutrino spec-
therefore exclude WIMPS with interac­tion 10 20 trum.
cross section larger than ~ 10 – 43 cm2. Cosmological ν
MSSM predictions for neutralino cross 10 16

sections range from 10 – 47 to 10 – 41 cm2. 10 12

Solar ν
Supernova burst (1987A)
Experimental sensitivities will be boosted
10 8
to 10 – 44 cm2 in about a year and may
Flux (cm – 2 s –1 sr –1 MeV –1)

Terrestrial anti-ν
reach, with ton-scale detectors, 10 – 46 cm2 10 4
Reactor anti-ν
in 7–8 years. Therefore, there is a fair 1 Background from old supernova
chance to detect dark matter particles in
the next decade – provided the progress 10 –4

in background rejection can be realised 10 – 8

and provided Dark Matter is made of su- Atmospheric ν
persymmetric particles. Presently fa- 10 –12

voured candidate devices are ‘bolomet- 10 –16 ν from AGN

ric’ detectors operated at a temperature
10 – 20
of 10–20 mK which detect the feeble
heat, ionisation and scintillation signals 10 – 24 GZK ν
from WIMP interactions, and noble liq- 10 – 28

uid detectors (Xe or Ar) recording ionisa-

10 – 6 10 – 3 1 10 3 10 6 10 9 10 12 10 15 10 18
tion and scintillation. A variety of present- µeV meV eV keV MeV GeV TeV PeV EeV
ly more than 20 Dark Matter experiments Neutrino energy
worldwide must, within several years,
converge to two or three few ton-scale
experiments with negligible background.

AGN) will likely be detected by neutrino Neutrino properties: neutrino-less double

Proton decay and low-energy neutrino telescopes in the next decade (see be­ beta decay
astronomy low), no practicable idea exists how to
detect 1.9 K cosmological neutrinos, the In the context of astroparticle physics,
Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) of particle analogue to the 2.7 K microwave radia- neutrinos – rather than being the subject
physics predict that the proton has a tion. of research – mainly play the role of
­finite lifetime. The related physics may be ­messengers: from the Sun, from a super-
closely linked to the physics of the Big A next-generation proton decay detector nova, from active galaxies. Still, some
Bang and the cosmic matter-antimatter could record neutrinos from a galactic of their properties remain undetermined.
asymmetry. Data from the Super-Kamio- supernova with unprecedented statis- From the oscillatory behaviour of neu­
kande detector in Japan constrain the tics: 10 4 –10 5 events, compared to only trinos we can deduce that the masses of
proton lifetime to be larger than 10 34 years, 20 events for SN 1987A. It would also the three neutrino species differ from
tantalisingly close to predictions of vari- allow a precise study of the solar interior each other. But what are the absolute val-
ous GUT models. A sensitivity improve- and of neutrinos generated deep in ues of their masses? Further: are neutri-
ment of an order of magnitude requires the Earth. Three detection techniques are nos their own antiparticles (‘Majorana
detectors on the 10 5 –10 6 ton scale. currently studied: Water-Cherenkov particles’)? Specifically these two ques-
­detectors (like Super-Kamiokande, see tions could be answered by the obser­
Proton decay detectors do also detect de Bellefon et al. 2006), liquid scintillator vation of a radioactive decay called neu-
cosmic neutrinos. Figure 2 shows a ­detectors and liquid argon detectors. trino-less double beta decay (Vogl 2006).
‘grand unified neutrino spectrum’. Solar They will be evaluated in the context of a To reach the sensitivity for a mass range
neutrinos, burst neutrinos from SN 1987A, common design study which will also of 20–50 meV, as suggested by various
reactor neutrinos, terrestrial neutrinos ­address the underground infrastructure theoretical models, one needs detectors
and atmospheric neutrinos have been al- and the possibility of detecting neutrinos with an active mass of the order of one
ready detected. They would be also in the from future accelerator beams. This ton, good resolution and very low back-
focus of a next-stage proton decay de- ­design study should converge, on a time ground. Construction of such detectors is
tector. Another guaranteed – although not scale of 2010, to a common proposal. envisaged to start in 2013–2015. Different
yet detected – flux is that of neutrinos The total cost depends on the method ­nuclear isotopes and different experi­
generated in collisions of ultra-energetic and the actual size, and is estimated mental techniques are needed to estab-
protons with the 3-K cosmic microwave ­between 400 and 800 M€. With the start lish the effect and extract a neutrino
background (CMB), the so-called GZK of civil engineering in 2012 or 2013, only a mass value. The price tag for one of these
(Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin) neutrinos. third of this amount might be due before experiments is at the 50–200 M€ scale,
Whereas GZK neutrinos as well as neutri- 2016. with the large range in cost being due to
nos from active galactic nuclei (marked the production cost for different isotopes.

34 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

The high-energy Universe 10 4 Figure 3: The spectrum of cosmic rays
Fluxes of Cosmic Rays and the domains for various experi-
mental methods. Highest observed
Cosmic rays have been discovered nearly 10 2 energies dwarf the Large Hadron
a century ago. Some of these particles (1 particle per m 2 and second) ­C ollider at CERN which will accelerate
have breathtaking energies – a hundred 10 –1 protons to 1013 eV.
million times above that of terrestrial
­accelerators (Olinto 2007; Watson 2005), 10 – 4
see Figure 3. How can cosmic acceler­
ators boost particles to these energies? 10 –7
What is the nature of the particles? The
Flux (m 2 sr s GeV) –1

mystery of cosmic rays is going to be 10 –10

solved by an interplay of detectors for
high-energy gamma rays, charged cos- 10 –13
mic rays and neutrinos. (1 particle per m 2 and year)

10 –16

Charged cosmic rays

10 –19

The present flagship in the search for

sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays 10 – 22 Ankle
(1 particle per km 2 and year)
is the Southern Pierre Auger Observatory
in Argentina. This is a 1000-km2 array of 10 – 25
water tanks, flanked by air fluorescence
telescopes, which measure direction and 10 – 28
1010 10 12 10 14 10 16 10 18 10 20
energy of giant air showers (see Figure 4). Energy (eV)
Full-sky coverage would be obtained
by a Northern observation site. European
groups will play a significant role to es-
tablish the scientific case, and after its
consolidation make a significant contribu- Figure 4: The Auger detection princi-
ples: fluorescence light from air show-
tion to the design and construction of
ers is recorded by telescopes, parti-
­Auger-North. cles at ground level are recorded by
Cherenkov water tanks.

TeV gamma rays

European instruments are leading the

field of ground-based high-energy gam-
ma-ray astronomy. Most of the new
sources in Figure 1 have been estalished
by H.E.S.S., an array of four Cherenkov
telescopes in Namibia, and MAGIC,
a large twin telescope at La Palma. The
rich results from current instruments
(Aharonian 2007; Voelk 2006) show that
high-energy phenomena are ubiquitous
in the sky; in fact, some of the objects
discovered emit most of their power in
the gamma-ray range and are barely visi-
ble at other wavelengths (‘dark accelera-
tors’). The need for a next-generation Fluorescence
­instrument is obvious, and its required telescope
characteristics are well understood. CTA,
the Cherenkov Telescope Array, could
both boost the sensitivity by another
order of magnitude and enlarge the usa- Water tanks
ble energy range. CTA is conceived to
cover both hemispheres, with one site in

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 35

Astronomical Science Spiering C., Status and Perspectives of Astroparticle Physics in Europe

each. The instruments will be prepared by 75˚ Figure 5: Sky map of

60˚ 4282 events recorded
a common European consortium.
45˚ by AMANDA in 2000–
High-energy neutrinos
The physics case for high-energy neu-
trino astronomy is obvious: neutrinos can 24 h 0h
­provide an uncontroversial proof of the
hadronic character of the source; more­
over they can reach us from cosmic re-
gions which are opaque to other types of
radiation (Waxman 2007). European 10 – 25 Figure 6: Current and
expected sensitivities for
physicists have played a key role in con- Virgo + 2008 LIGO 2005 AURIGA 2005
ground-based gravita-
struction and operation of the two pio- 10 – 20
Virgo Design tional wave detectors.
neering large neutrino telescopes, NT200 The solid curves corre-
in Lake Baikal and AMANDA at the South 10 – 21 spond to existing detec-
h (f) [1/sqrt (Hz)]

tors and their expected

Pole, and are also strongly involved in GEO-HF
2009 upgrades. Dotted lines
AMANDA’s successor, IceCube (Halzen 10 – 22
are for new projects.
2007). A complete sky coverage, in
­particular of the central parts of the Gal- 10 – 23
(Quantum Limit)
axy with many promising source candi-
dates, requires a cubic kilometre detector Advanced LIGO/Virgo (2014)
10 – 24
in the Northern hemisphere. Prototype
­installations of AMANDA size are pres- Einstein GW Telescope
10 – 25
ently installed at three different Mediterra- 1 10 100 1000 10 000
Frequency (Hz)
nean sites (Greece, France, Italy). An
EU-funded three-year study (KM3NeT) is
in progress to consolidate the scientific
case and to work out the technical de-
sign of a single, optimised large future re- VIRGO). Predicted event rates, e.g. for European dominance, and for R&D.
search infrastructure in the Mediter­ mergers of neutron star/ black hole sys- Technological innovation has been a pre-
ranean, with construction envisaged to tems (BH-BH, NS-NS, NS-BH) are highly requisite of the enormous progress made
start in 2011. uncertain and range between 3 and 1000 over the last two decades and enabled
for the ‘advanced’ detectors planned to maturity in most fields of astroparticle
start data taking in about five years (see physics. It is also a prerequisite for future
Gravitational waves Figure 6). This would change dramati- progress towards greater sensitivity and
cally with a third-generation underground lower cost and must be supported with
Gravitational waves would provide us with interferometer facility (Einstein Telescope, significant funds.
information on strong field gravity through E.T.) which would have a guaranteed rate
the study of immediate environments of of many thousands of events per year The present ‘first stage’ roadmap will be
black holes. The most advanced tools for and move gravitational wave detectors followed by a second stage which will be
gravitational wave detection are interfer- into the category of astronomical observ- associated with a detailed census of ex-
ometers with kilometre-long arms. The atories. Civil engineering could start in isting budget and human resources avail-
passage of a gravitational wave differen- 2012 or 2013. able in the participating agencies.
tial contracts space along the two direc-
tions of the arms and influences the light
travel time (Hong 2005). At present, the The big picture References
world’s most sensitive interferometer is Aharonian F. 2007, Science 315, 70
LIGO (USA), the others being GEO600 in Table 1 is based on a scenario where the Baudis L. 2005, astro-ph/0511805
Germany, TAMA in Japan and VIRGO process of cooperation and coordination de Bellefon A. et al. 2006, hep-ex/0607026
in Italy. The research field of Gravitational converges to a few major activities (cost Halzen F. 2007, Science 315, 66
Hong J., Rowan S. and Sathyaprkash B. 2005,
Wave has a huge discovery potential but > 50 M€) between 2010 and 2015. Natu- gr-qc/0501007
is still awaiting the first direct detection. rally, there must be room for initiatives Olinto A. 2007, Science 135, 68
In the short term, the European ground below the 50 M€ level. The Roadmap Sadoulet B. 2007, Science 315, 61
interferometers (GEO and VIRGO) should committee suggests that about 15–20 % Watson A. 2005, astro-ph/0511800
Voelk H. 2006, astro-ph/0603501
turn to observation mode with a fraction of astroparticle funding should be re- Vogl P. 2006, hep-ph/0611243
of their time dedicated to their improve- served for smaller initiatives, for participa- Waxman E. 2007, Science 315, 63
ment (GEO-HF, VIRGO+ and Advanced tion in overseas experiments with non-

36 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Field Experiment Cost scale per Desirable start Remarks Table 1: Future European projects with
experiment (M€) of construction > 50 M€ estimated cost. Note that in
Dark Matter Low background experi- 60–100 2011–2013 two experiments (differ- most of the cases further R&D efforts,
ments with one-ton mass ent nuclei and different or further input from prototype de-
techniques) vices, or final confirmation of the phys-
ics case, are required before arriving
Proton decay and Large infrastructure for 400–800 Civil engineer- – needs huge excava-
at a detailed technical proposal. There-
low-energy neutrino p-decay and ν astronomy ing: 2012–2013 tion
fore the indicated starting dates are
­a stronomy on the 100 kton –1 Mton – most of expenditures
termed ‘desirable’.
scale likely after 2015
– worldwide sharing
Properties of neutrinos Experiments on neutrino- 50–200 2013–2015 two experiments with ­
less double beta decay different nuclei (desira-
with one-ton mass bly more worldwide)
The high-energy Gamma rays: 100 (South) First site in Physics potential well
Universe Cherenkov Telescope Array 50 (North) 2011 ­d efined by rich physics
CTA from present gamma ray
Charged Cosmic Rays: 85 2010 Confirmation of physics
Auger North (1/3 Europe) potential from Auger
South results expected
in 2007
Neutrinos: 250 2011 Confirmation of physics
KM3NeT potential expected from
IceCube and gamma ray
telescopes. Full Pro-
posal expected in 2009.
Gravitational waves Einstein Telescope 300 Civil engineer- Conceived as under-
ing: 2012 ground laboratory
Photo: H.E.S.S. Collaboration

Two of the four H.E.S.S. Cherenkov

telescopes for detection of very high
energy gamma rays are shown.
The H.E.S.S. observatory is situated in
­Namibia, southern Africa. Each tele-
scope has a mirror diameter of 12 m
with a camera consisting of 960 pho-
tomultipliers. The four telescopes
are coupled and work in stereoscopic

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 37

Astronomical Science

Hot Gas in High-Redshift Protogalaxies: Observations of

High-Ion Absorption in Damped Lyman-Alpha Systems

Andrew J. Fox 1 tent of DLAs and sub-DLAs at high red- redward of the Lyman-a forest and so are
Patrick Petitjean 1, 2 shift has been carefully studied, providing subject to a much lower level of contami-
Cédric Ledoux 3 a means to trace the process of cosmic nation. The O vi sample is much smaller
Raghunathan Srianand 4 metal enrichment over a large fraction of (12 systems), since in many cases the O vi
the age of the Universe. lines are blended with the Lyman-a for-
est, the series of intervening H i absorp-
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, We recently began a programme to look tion lines found at wavelengths shortward
­Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, for a hot ionised medium in DLAs and of the quasar’s Lyman-a emission line.
France sub-DLAs. Two separate processes could We dealt with the confusion of separating
LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, France create such a medium, we reasoned. If O vi from H i interlopers by adopting a
ESO DLAs do represent high-redshift galax- ­series of systematic steps to identify gen-
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy ies, then star formation and subsequent uine DLA O vi absorbers. These steps
and Astrophysics – IUCAA, Ganesh Type II supernova explosions will create included verifying the doublet ratio be-
Khind, Pune, India super-bubbles of hot, shock-heated in­ tween the two O vi lines, and checking to
terstellar plasma. Sufficiently powerful su- see whether candidate O vi identifications
pernovae can drive winds that enrich the could be caused by intervening Lyman-a,
The neutral discs of high-redshift galax- surrounding intergalactic medium with Lyman-β, or Lyman-γ forest absorbers,
ies give rise to the Damped Lyman-a metals. The separate process of accre- by looking in each case for correspond-
(DLA) systems seen in the spectra of tion and shock-heating of infalling interga- ing absorption in the other Lyman series
background quasars. We show for the lactic gas could also lead to the produc- lines. We detect O vi in 12 of 35 DLAs
first time that a hot phase of gas is tion of a hot ionised medium, though this (34 %) with O vi coverage. In the remaining
present in DLAs, observable in the ab- process is predicted to be less important 66 % of cases, we cannot tell whether
sorption lines of five-times-ionised oxy- at high redshift: hydrodynamical simula- O vi is present or not due to the blending.
gen. This plasma phase, which could tions have shown that the fraction of all Thus a conservative estimate of the
harbour a considerable fraction of all baryons in the temperature range 10 5 to ­fraction of DLAs with O vi is > 34 %. N v is
the metals produced by star formation 10 7 K rises from a few per cent at z = 3 to detected in 3/9 systems with data cov­
at these epochs, can be explained as ≈ 30 % at z = 0 (Davé et al. 2001). ering the appropriate wavelength range.
the feedback from star formation taking
place in the neutral discs. The ultraviolet (UV) lines available for
studying highly ionised interstellar plasma Example of DLA spectra
are the O vi λλ 1031, 1037, N v λλ 1238,
Studying galaxy halos at high redshift 1242, C iv λλ 1548, 1550, and Si iv λλ In Figure 1 we show the absorption line
1393, 1402 Å doublets. O vi, which traces profiles of three example DLA systems
To obtain observations of galaxies at high gas in the temperature range 10 5–6 K, with O vi detections. Within each column
redshift, one can pursue deep imaging is of particular interest since it is the most of this figure we show a Si ii or Fe ii line
in the optical and infrared, or look for ab- highly ionised of all the species with chosen to trace the neutral gas, together
sorption-line signatures in the spectra of UV lines. Furthermore, oxygen is the third with all the available high ionisation data.
background QSOs. These two methods most abundant element in the Universe Our model fits are included on the plot
are complementary, but whereas direct (after hydrogen and helium), and the O vi in red. We do not include all the spectra
imaging is biased towards bright objects, lines are intrinsically strong, rendering here: the full spectra are available in
absorption lines select galaxies irrespec- them easy to observe. O vi systems are ­Figure 1 in Fox et al. (2007a). There is
tive of brightness. If the sight line toward only accessible from the ground at z > 2, con­siderable variation in the appearance
a particular QSO intersects the neutral where the transitions become redshifted of the highly ionised absorption lines in
disc of a galaxy, a Damped Lyman-a enough to pass the atmospheric cut-off the DLAs. The O vi absorbers range from
(DLA) absorption system will be observed near 300 nm. cases with a single, optically thin com­
in the quasar spectrum. This name re- ponent to cases with a series of saturated
flects the strong damping wings of the components. The C iv profiles range from
Lyman-a transition seen in these sys- Observations and sample selection cases with one or two components
tems. Observationally, DLAs are defined ­spanning < 100 km s –1 to cases with over
as those QSO absorbers with H i column A large data set of DLA spectra has been 15 components spanning several hun-
densities N(H i) > 2 × 10 20 cm –2. Those built up using the Ultraviolet-Visual dred km s –1. It is interesting to note that
absorbers with slightly lower H i column Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) on VLT UT2 the mean integrated O vi column density
densities (between 10 19 and 2 × 10 20 cm –2) in the years 2000 to 2006. The data set in our 12 detections, log N (O vi) = 14.54,
are referred to as sub-DLAs. DLAs re­ currently consists of 123 DLAs and sub- is of similar order to the mean O vi column
present the largest reservoirs of neutral DLAs. We formed two subsamples from density seen in the halo of the Milky Way,
gas (and hence fuel for star formation) the data: all the DLAs with detections in even though the metallicities of the DLAs
in the redshift range 0–5 (see review by the C iv line, and all the DLAs with detec- in our sample are typically only one-for­
Wolfe et al. 2005). Since the advent of tions in O vi. The C iv sample, containing tieth of the solar value. This implies that-
10-m-class telescopes, the chemical con­ 73 systems, is larger since the lines lie the total ionised hydrogen column densi-

38 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Q0027-186 z abs = 2.402 Q0112-306 z abs = 2.702 Q0450-131 z abs = 2.067 Figure 1: VLT/UVES absorption-line
log N(H I) = 21.75 [Z/H] = –1.63 log N(H I) = 20.30 [Z/H] = – 0.49 log N(H I) = 20.50 [Z/H] = –1.62 spectra of three example DLA systems
Si II 1526
Fe II 1608
with detections of O vi absorption.
Fe II 1608 The tracer of the neutral gas is shown
B in the top panel, with the other pan-
els showing all available high-ionisa-
Si IV 1393 tion data. In each DLA v = 0 km/s
Si IV 1393
is defined by the redshift annotated at
N V 1238 the top of the column, which corre-
sponds to the strongest component of
Si IV 1402 absorption in the neutral gas. The
Si IV 1402
red line shows our VPFIT model of the
Flux (arbitrary units)

­a bsorption, and fitted continua are

shown as light dashed lines. Blends
C IV 1548 C IV 1548 N V 1242 are identified with the letter ‘B’.

C IV 1550 C IV 1550

O VI 1031

O IV 1031 O IV 1031

O VI 1037
O IV 1037
O IV 1037 B

– 200 0 200 – 400 0 400 – 200 0 200

v (km/s) v (km/s) v (km/s)

ties are much higher in DLAs than in the O vi b-value is 14 km s –1, with the majority Similar trends are found with O vi, but
Milky Way. of cases over 20 km s –1. This suggests we display the C iv results since the sam-
that the plasma has a multi-phase struc- ple sizes are much larger and the correla-
ture, with the O vi arising in a hot, colli- tions are more significant. We interpret
Gas temperature sionally ionised phase, and the narrow these correlations as providing evidence
C iv components arising in cooler clouds, for star formation in the DLA host galax-
In each DLA, the absorption line profiles which may be embedded in the hot ies. In this picture, star formation in the
of each high-ionisation line usually con­­- phase. neutral DLA discs will lead to EUV radia-
sist of several individual components. tion from hot stars that can photoionise
Using the freely available VPFIT software carbon in the galaxy’s interstellar medi­-
package, we determined the properties Evidence for star formation um (ISM) to the triply-ionised state, giving
of each individual component for the O vi rise to the narrow C iv lines. Star forma-
sample. In Figure 2 we show the distribu- We find that the bulk properties of the tion also leads to supernovae, resulting
tions of the component line width, and plasma depend strongly on the metallicity in: (i) the release of metals generated by
compare the results for O vi, C iv, and Si iv. of the neutral gas. This is revealed by the stellar nucleosynthesis; (ii) the production
These distributions offer information on detection of correlations between [Z/H] of superbubbles containing million-de-
the physical conditions in the absorbing and: (1), C iv column density; (2) total C iv gree plasma, that can interact with cool
gas. line width; and (3), maximum C iv velocity. or warm clouds to produce gas at tem-
These correlations are shown in Figure 3. peratures where triply-ionised carbon and
Many of the C iv and Si iv components
in DLAs have narrow line widths (b < 0.4
10 km s –1) implying that the kinetic tem-
perature in the gas is too low to pro- 0.3
O VI (solid) 31 comps
C IV (dotted) 64 comps
duce the high ion­isation by collisions with Si IV (dashed) 49 comps
­electrons. Instead, these components Figure 2: Normalised histograms of

0.2 the widths of the high-ionisation

must be photo­ionised, by extreme-ultravi- ­c omponents that comprise the DLA
olet (EUV) ­photons in the extragalactic absorbers, as measured using the
background radiation from quasars and 0.1 VPFIT component-fitting software
gal­a xies, and potentially also from local package. The number of components
in each sample is indicated on the plot.
sources of r­ a­diation. However, no indi­ – – –
Note that b (Si iv) < b (C iv) < b (O vi),
vidual narrow photoionised O vi compo- 0.0
0 10 20 30 40 i.e. the average component width rises
nents are found in the data; the narrowest Component b (km/s) with ionisation potential.

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 39

Astronomical Science Fox A. J. et al., Hot Gas in High-Redshift Protogalaxies

five-times-ionised oxygen are created within the DLA halos. When using our
through electron collisions, giving rise to median values N(H ii, Hot)/N(H i) > 0.4 and
the broad C iv and O vi lines; and (iii) the 15.0 N(H ii, Warm)/N(H i) > 0.1, we find that
deposition of mechanical energy into the the contribution from the hot and warm

log N(C IV)

surrounding ISM, that imparts the large 14.5 ionised phases in DLAs to Ω is > 4 × 10 –4
velocity dispersion to the highly-ionised and > 1 × 10 –4, respectively. These num-
components. bers are small compared to the total
13.5 ­density of baryons, since at z > 2 the ma-
Our C iv line width/metallicity correlation jority of the baryons are thought to lie
closely follows the observed correlation 13.0 in the diffuse Lyman-a forest (Rauch et
between the low-ionisation line width and al. 1998).
–3 –2 –1 0
metallicity (Ledoux et al. 2006) which [Z/H]
has been taken to imply an underlying
mass-metallicity relation. This is because 1000 Missing metals
the low-ionisation line width is thought
to be dominated by gravity, and hence Although the DLAs are unimportant in the
can be used to indicate the galaxy mass. baryon budget at high redshift, they may
Δv (C IV) in km/s

If this is true, one expects that the more play a significant role in the metal budget.
metal-rich galaxies will reside in deeper 100 The total amount of metals released by
potential wells, so that their ionised out- z = 2 can be calculated by integrating the
flows do not become winds and escape, observed star-formation history of the
but rather are decelerated and exist in Universe, and using the metal yields from
gravitationally-bound halos. Indeed, this models of stellar nucleosynthesis. Us-
mechanism has been suggested to be 10 ing the star-formation rate from Bouwens
–3 –2 –1 0
the origin of the mass-metallicity relation. [Z/H] et al. (2004), the resulting number ex-
However, we detect C iv outflows in DLAs pressed in units of the critical density is
at all values of [Z/H], as shown in the 1000 Ω SFH
Z ≈ 3 × 10 –5. Stars in galaxies appear
­bottom panel of Figure 3. The maximum to contain ≈ 20 % of the total, the con­
outflow velocities reach over 500 km s –1 tribution from the ISM in galaxies (H i in
|vmax | (C IV) in km/s

in eight high-metallicity systems. This in- DLAs) is ~ 1 %, and the IGM contains
dicates that some mechanism is capable a further ≈ 5–25 %. The remaining metals
of driving galactic winds even out of the 100 (≈ 50 % of the total) are yet to be found,
deepest potential wells. leading to a situation referred to as the
“missing metal problem” (Bouché et al.
2007, and references therein). Hot, low-
Total ionised column density metallicity, low-density gas is a possible
10 solution to the missing metals problem.
–3 –2 –1 0
By making corrections for ionisation and [Z/H] For plasma with a density of 10 –3 cm –3, a
for metallicity, we can convert, for each metallicity of 0.01 solar, and a tempera-
absorber, the measured O vi and C iv Figure 3: Correlations between metallicity and (1) ture of 10 6 K, we calculate the cooling
high ionisation species column density (top panel,
­column densities to H ii column densities. time to be ≈ 12 billion years, i.e. approxi-
> 6 σ significance), (2) high ionisation line width (mid-
The ionisation corrections are derived dle panel, at 3.4 σ significance), and (3) maximum mately the Hubble time, showing that
from models, and the metallicities have outflow velocity (bottom panel, at 3.1 σ significance), gas and metals can become essentially
been measured in Ledoux et al. (2006). in a sample of 73 DLAs and sub-DLAs. The metal- locked up in hot halos.
licity is measured in the neutral phase of the gas. The
We assume that the neutral, warm, and
solid lines show linear least-squares bisector fits to
hot phases all share the same common the data. If ƒ (O vi) in the DLA plasma were as low
metallicity, and further that the relative as 3 × 10 –3, which is the case for plasma
­elemental abundances are in their solar Contribution to Ω in collisional ionisation equilibrium at
ratios. When the hot hydrogen column 10 6 K (Gnat and Sternberg 2007), then
densities are computed, the numbers are The contribution of H i in DLAs to the cos- the O vi-bearing plasma around DLAs
strikingly large. We find log N(H ii) in the mic density has been calculated as ≈ 1 × would contain enough metals to solve the
O vi phase ranges from > 19.5 to > 21.1, 10 –3, fairly flat with redshift (Prochaska et missing metals problem. The widths of
and log N(H ii) in the C iv phase ranges al. 2005). By making use of our new es­ the broader O vi lines in our sample are
from > 18.4 to > 20.9. These lower limits timates for the amount of ionised gas that consistent with the thermal broadening
are typically on the same order as the accompanies the neutral gas in DLAs, expected at 10 6 K. However, since metals
H i column in the neutral gas, although we we can compute the contribution of the will also be found in both the neutral and
observe a considerable dispersion (over hot gas in DLAs to the closure density. ionised phases of other categories of
two orders of magnitude) in the value of This calculation has the advantage of not quasar absorption line system, it is un-
N(H ii)/N(H i). depending on the distribution of gas likely that ƒ (O vi) will take a value as low

40 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

as 3 × 10 –3. These other categories in- for O vii and O viii absorption in DLAs to of Advanced Research (Centre Franco-Indien pour
la Promotion de la Recherche Avancée) under con-
clude the low H i column density absorb- confirm the presence of 10 6 K plasma are
tract No. 3004-3. For complete details on the work
ers known as Lyman Limit Systems, which beyond the capabilities of current X-ray discussed in this letter, see Fox et al. (2007a, b).
may probe the ­remotest regions of ga­ satellites, and must wait for a new gener-
lactic halos. Further studies are needed ation of X-ray satellites (XEUS, Constella-
to search for and characterise the O vi tion-X).
phase in QSO absorbers over all ranges Bouché N. et al. 2007, MNRAS 378, 525
of N(H i), in order to fully measure the Bouwens R. J. et al. 2004, ApJ 616, L79
quantity of baryons and metals hidden in Acknowledgements Davé R. et al. 2001, ApJ 552, 473
Fox A. et al. 2007a, A&A 465, 171
hot galactic halos at high redshift. Andrew J. Fox gratefully acknowledges support from Fox A. et al. 2007b, A&A, in press,
a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship awarded astro-ph/0707.4065
We conclude by noting that if 10 K gas is by the European Union Sixth Framework Programme. Gnat O. and Sternberg A. 2007, ApJS 168, 213
present in DLAs, the majority of oxygen We have made use of the VPFIT software package, Ledoux C. et al. 2006, A&A 457, 71
written by Bob Carswell and available at http://www. Prochaska J. X. et al. 2005, ApJ 635, 123
atoms will be ionised up to O vii and O viii. Patrick Petitjean and Rauch M. 1998, ARA&A 36, 267
The resonance lines of these ions are Raghunathan Srianand gratefully ­acknowledge sup- Wolfe A. M. et al. 2005, ARA&A 43, 861
in the X-ray, but unfortunately searches port from the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion

The diffuse H ii region N158 in the

Large Magellanic Cloud, first classified
by Henize in 1956, is shown in this
ESO 2.2 WFI image taken from the
256 M pixel colour image which ap-
peared as ESO PR 50/06. The im-
age size is 13 by 14.5 arcminutes and
north is up, east to the left. The super-
bubble nebula to the north-west
(NGC 2081) surrounds the early-type
star cluster LH104, identified by
Luck and Hodge in 1970. The more
compact nebula to the south-west
is NGC 2074, also referred to as
N158C, which shows signs of recent
star formation. There are many young
hot stars and Wolf-Rayet stars found
across the N158 nebula.

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 41

Astronomical Science

The Redshift of BL Lacertae Objects from

High Signal-to-Noise VLT Spectra

Renato Falomo 1 The first two effects may yield directly Observations and data analysis
Aldo Treves 2 a redshift z of the object, while the third
gives only a lower limit to z. Optical spectra were collected in service
mode with FORS1 on the VLT. The ob­
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Because of the difficulty of observing servations were obtained in service mode
­Padova, Italy spectral features, alternative procedures from April 2003 to March 2004 with UT1
Università dell’Insubria, Como, Italy for distance estimates have been pro- and from April to October 2004 with UT2.
posed. One is based on the observed We used the 300 V + l grism combined
properties of the host galaxy (imaging with a 2? slit, yielding a dispersion of
BL Lacertae objects are active galactic redshift). This follows from the fact that, at 110 ˚A/mm (corresponding to 2.64 Å/pix­el)
nuclei dominated by non-thermal least locally, the host galaxies are all and a spectral resolution of 15–20 Å cov-
­continuum emission and characterised giant ellipticals with a rather narrow distri- ering the 3 800−8 000 Å interval. The see-
by absence or extreme weakness of bution in absolute luminosity (Sbarufatti ing during observations was in the range
emission lines. These properties in sev- et al. 2005b). Recently the absorption in 0.5−2.5?, with an average of 1?. Detailed
eral cases hinder the determination of the TeV band due to EBL has been also information on the observations and the
their distance and thus the assessment used as a redshift probe (Aharonian et al. sample objects are given in Sbarufatti et
of the properties of the class. High 2006; Albert et al. 2007). al. (2005a, 2006).
­signal-to-noise optical spectra of these
sources obtained with the VLT help Because of the imminent launch of the The detection and the measurement of
to overcome these difficulties and allow gamma-ray satellites AGILE and GLAST, very weak spectral features are difficult to
one to obtain new redshifts and set and of the flourishing of TeV astronomy assess because they depend on the
stringent limits on the distance for pure (HESS, MAGIC, CANGAROO, VERITAS), choice of the parameters used to define
lineless objects. one expects a substantial increase in the spectral line and the continuum. In
the number of BL Lac object candidates. order to apply an objective method for
The measurement of their redshift be- any given spectrum, we evaluate the mini-
The class of BL Lac objects comes mandatory, since it is not only an mum measurable equivalent width (EWmin )
important step for the study of the cos- defined as twice the rms of the distribu-
The absence or weakness of emission mological evolution of the class, but tion of the EW values measured in 30 Å
lines in the optical spectra is one of the also for tracing the interaction with the wide bins from the normalised spectrum
defining characteristics of BL Lac ob- host galaxy, and for probing of the EBL. (avoiding all strong spectral features).
jects, together with the high polarisation,
large amplitude and rapid flux variabil- Motivated by the above considerations The procedure for calculating EWmin was
ity. The standard interpretation of these we have undertaken a programme of applied to all featureless or quasi-feature-
properties, originating from Blandford spectroscopic observations of BL Lac less spectra to find faint spectral lines. All
and Rees back in 1968, is that BL Lacs objects using the capabilities of the features above the EWmin threshold, rang-
are radio loud active galactic nuclei VLT. The main advantage of these obser- ing from 1 Å to 0.1 Å, were considered
(AGN) where the relativistic jet is pointing vations with respect to previous pro- as line candidates and were carefully vis-
close to the observer direction, so that grammes is the significant improvement ually inspected and measured. Based on
the continuum emission is significantly in terms of the signal-to-noise (S/N) of the detected lines and the shape of the
enhanced and the line equivalent width is the spectra that directly translates into a continuum it is possible to characterise
depressed. BL Lacs therefore offer one better capability to detect very weak the spectroscopic properties of the ob-
of the best opportunities to study relativ- spectral features, and largely overcomes jects, confirm or dispute the BL Lac clas-
istic jets, which are manifest from the the results obtained with four-metre-class sification and derive new redshifts.
­radio-band to 100 MeV gamma-rays. The instruments. This programme makes
atmospheric Cherenkov technique has ­feasible the ­redshift detection of faint
demonstrated that BL Lacs may emit also sources at z ~ 1 and beyond, and of rela- Examples of high S/N spectra of BL Lacs
in the TeV band. These extremely ener- tively nearbyand bright ones, where the at the VLT
getic photons interact with the Extraga- beaming effect on the continuum emis-
lactic Background Light (EBL), producing sion is such that spectral lines can be un- As a direct consequence of the improved
electron/positron pairs. This effect limits observable. signal-to-noise of the optical spectra col-
the direct detection of such photons to lected at the VLT, we are able to detect a
relatively nearby objects (z < 0.5). number of spectral features, either emis-
sion from the gas surrounding the nuclear
In the picture of the dominance of rela­ region or absorption lines of the host
tivistic jet emission, though weak, various ­galaxy. Examples of high S/N VLT spec-
types of lines are expected: (1) fluores- tra are shown in Figures 1 and 2. In the
cence emission typical of AGN; (2) stellar first case (PKS 0808+019) the high S/N
absorption of the host galaxy; (3) absorp- spectrum shows clearly two weak emis-
tion in the haloes of intervening galaxies. sion lines (EW = 3–5 Å) of a moderately

42 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

high (z = 1.148) redshift object. In the sec- Figure 1a: Optical spectrum of the BL
1.5 Lac object PKS 0808+019 (z = 1.148).
ond case (EXO 00556.4-3838) the spec-
Top: Flux-calibrated and dereddened
trum allows us to detect the faint absorp- spectra. Bottom: Normalised spec-
tion features of the host galaxy.

Flux (× 10 –16 )
1 trum. Telluric bands are in­dicated by
circled plus signs.
In a third case we show the spectrum of
the BL Lac object PG 1553+11. This is 0.5

a bright (V = 14) object, which, although

studied with the most advanced instru- 0
mentation, remains line-less (e.g. Falomo
and Treves 1990). No signature of its host


galaxy is apparent from the high-res­
Normalised Flux

olution HST image (Urry et al. 2000 and

Scarpa et al. 2000). In this case the spec-
trum (see Figure 2) obtained with the
VLT, in spite of the high (S/N ~ 300), does 0.9

not allow to detect either faint emission

from the nucleus or absorption from the 4 000 5 000 6 000 7000 8 000
host galaxy. Wavelength (Å)

Figure 1b: EXO 00556.4-3838: In

this case the spectrum clearly shows
Analysis of the BL Lac spectra 10
the host galaxy spectral features
8 (Ca ii 3 934, 3 968, G-band 4 305, and
The observed spectrum of a BL Lac ob-
Flux (× 10 –16 )

Mg i 5175 Å absorption lines) at

ject is given by the contribution of two 6 z = 0.302. Absorption features in our
Galaxy are labelled by DIB (diffuse
main components: (1) a non-thermal emis­ 4 interstellar band).
sion from the nucleus that can be de-
scribed by a power law; (2) a thermal 2

component due to the host galaxy. In 0

some cases weak emission lines from the

nucleus can be also present. Depend­-


Mg I

ing on the relative contribution of the two
Normalised Flux

components, the optical spectrum will

be dominated by the non-thermal (fea-
tureless) emission or by the spectral sig-
nature of the host galaxy. In Figure 3 0.9


the combination of the two components

is compared with the observed spectra 0.8
4 000 5 000 6 000 7000 8 000
for six objects. The host galaxy magni- Wavelength (Å)
tude deduced from this decomposition is
in good agreement with that deduced 80
Figure 2: Optical spectrum of the fea-
tureless BL Lac object PG 1553+11.
­directly from the image (Sbarufatti et al.
Top: Flux-calibrated spectra. Bottom:
2005b). 60 Normalised spectra. Telluric bands are
Flux (× 10 –16 )

in­dicated by circled plus signs. The

Under the assumption that the host gal- 40
other absorption features are identified
as interstellar medium (ISM) spec-
axy luminosity is confined in a narrow
tral lines and diffuse interstellar bands
range (e.g. Sbarufatti et al. 2005b) from 20 (DIB) from gas in our Galaxy.
the EW limits of spectral features, it is
possible to constrain the position of the 0
source on the nucleus-to-host flux ratio

(ρ) vs redshift plane. This is illustrated in




Figure 4. Using this approach it becomes
Normalised Flux

possible therefore to obtain a lower limit

to the redshift for objects with feature-
less spectra (Sbarufatti et al. 2006). For
example in the case of PG 1553+11 (Fig- 0.95

ure 2) the redshift must be z > 0.1.

4 000 5 000 6 000 7000 8 000
Wavelength (Å)

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 43

Astronomical Science Falomo R., Treves A., The Redshift of BL Lacertae Objects

ZBLLAC – a web page for the spectra of 1.3 Figure 3: Comparison of the observed

Mg I
Fe I, Fe II



Ca + Fe
1.2 optical spectra (dotted line) of BL Lac
BL Lac objects 1.1 objects with a best fit model (solid
1.0 line) composed by a template host gal-
The optical spectra of BL Lacs obtained 0.9 0224+018 z = 0.456 axy spectrum plus a non-thermal con-
at the VLT have been made available 2.4 tinuum component described by a
power law. The figure clearly illustrates
to the astronomical community through a 2.2
2.0 the ­effect on the observed spectrum
spectroscopic library at the web page: 1.8 of the different contributions from the 1.6
0316–121 z = 0.443 ­nucleus that occur in 0316–121 and
This includes most of the objects ob- 0557–385.
served at the VLT and others with good
quality spectra. For each object in the
database we give basic data (coordi- 0557–385 z = 0.302

nates, V-band magnitude, the redshift or 5
1212+078 z = 0.137
a lower limit to it), the optical spectrum 4

(in PDF and ASCII table format) and de- 3

tails on the references to the target. In 2
general the best available optical spec- 0.8
1248–296 z = 0.382
trum is linked in the main page of the da-
tabase, while additional spectra are ap-
pended and linked in separate pages.
These web pages are also open to exter- 0.5

nal contributions (see http://www.oapd. 0.45 for details). 0.4

2217–3106 z = 0.460
4 000 4 500 5 000 5 500
Acknowledgements Wavelength (Å)

This work was undertaken in collaboration with

Boris Sbarufatti (Insubria University, Como), Jari K.
­Kotilainen (Turku Observatory, Finland) and Riccardo 3 Figure 4: The R-band nucleus-to-host
Scarpa (ESO; GTC, Spain). ratio (ρ) versus redshift for the BL
Lac object 1RXS J150343.0−154107.
The solid line represents the limit in
this plane obtained from the minimum
References 2
equivalent width (EWmin ) that was de-
rived from the VLT spectrum. The
Aharonian F. et al. 2006, A&A 448, L19 bending of this curve at low z is due to
Albert J. et al. 2007, ApJ 654, L119 aperture effects. Dotted curves cor­
Blandford R. D. and Rees M. J. 1978, in Pittsburgh 1 respond to a 0.1-Å uncertainty on the
Conference on BL Lac Objects, ed. A. M. Wolfe, EW. The dashed line gives ρ versus z
log (N/H)

University Pittsburgh Press, 328 for the object with nuclear apparent
Falomo R. and Treves A. 1990, PASP 102, 1120 magnitude R = 17.7 assuming a stand-
Sbarufatti B. et al. 2005a, AJ 129, 599 ard host galaxy (M R = – 22.9; Sbarufatti
Sbarufatti B., Treves A. and Falomo R. 2005b, 0
et al. 2005b). Dotted lines encompass-
ApJ 635, 173 ing this curve correspond to a varia-
Sbarufatti B. et al. 2006, AJ 132, 1 tion of 0.5 mag. The intersection of the
Scarpa R. et al. 2000, ApJ 532, 740 two solid lines gives the lower limit:
Urry C. M. et al. 2000, ApJ 532, 816 –1 z > 0.5. Full details on the method are
described in Sbarufatti et al. (2006).

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1

44 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical Science

Results from the Multiwavelength Survey

by Yale-Chile (MUSYC)

Ezequiel Treister 1 ­ etect a statistically significant population

d Optical imaging
Eric Gawiser 2 of the brighter, and thus rarer, sources.
Pieter Van Dokkum 3 Examples include Galaxy Evolution from Optical imaging was performed mostly
Paulina Lira 4 Morphology and SEDs (GEMS), the VLT- using the Blanco 4-metre telescope
Meg Urry 3 VIRMOS Deep Survey (VVDS), the at Cerro Tololo with the MOSAIC-II cam-
and the MUSYC Collaboration ­Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS), the era, which provides a field of view of
Deep Extragalactic Evolutionary Probe ~ 36; × 36;. Images were taken in the
(DEEP-2), the NOAO Deep-Wide Field UBVRIz; filters. This filter set was chosen
ESO Sur­vey (NDWFS), and the Multiwave- in order to maximise the number of inde-
 utgers, State University of New Jersey,
R length Survey by Yale-Chile (MUSYC). pendent flux measurements and the
Piscataway, New Jersey, USA wavelength coverage. Most of the imag-
3 Yale University, New Haven, Connecti- MUSYC is unique among the current ing in the ECDF-S field (except the
cut, USA gen­eration of wide-deep surveys in hav- z;-band) and the U-band imaging on the
4 Universidad de Chile, Santiago de ing been optimised for the study of SDSS1030 field were done using the
Chile, Chile the high-redshift (z > 3) Universe. This is Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the 2.2-metre
achieved by imaging 1.2 square de- ­telescope at La Silla. Images in a narrow
grees spread over four fields down to the band filter centred at 500 nanometers
We present results from the MUSYC ­spectroscopic limit for modern 8-metre were also obtained in each field in order
survey, which images a total of telescopes with coverage from U-band to look for Lyman Alpha Emitters at z ~ 3.
1.2 square degrees spread over four through K-band, in order to trace both The ECDF-S imaging was made public by
fields in UBVRIz;K down to the spectro- the Lyman and Balmer/4 000 Å breaks at the ESO Deep Public Survey, COMBO-17,
scopic limit, R ~ 25, K ~ 22 (AB). A z ~ 3 and prioritise high-redshift can­ and GaBODS teams.
­significant fraction of the survey area didates for spectroscopy. The fields were
has also been imaged by Chandra, chosen to have the lowest possible Ga- The location of each field together with
XMM, GALEX, HST-ACS, near-infrared lactic reddening, H i column density and the magnitude limits on each band is pre-
(JH), Spitzer-IRAC+MIPS, VLA, and dust emis­sion at 100 microns. Fields sented in Table 1. Colour images of each
ATCA. The main goals of this survey in- with existing multi-wavelength data were field combining data in the U, B and R fil-
clude the study of galaxy formation strongly preferred. Additionally, these ters are presented in Figure 1. A detailed
and evolution, Active Galactic Nuclei fields had to be accessible from Chile, as description of the data-reduction tech-
(AGN) and Galactic structure. they will be a natural choice for follow-up niques for the EHDF-S, which were also
studies with ALMA. used for the other fields, was provided by
Gawiser et al. (2006a). The 1.2 square de-
The MUSYC survey This programme started as a collabora- gree optical catalogue contains 277 341
tion between astronomers from Universi- sources with a 50 % completeness limit
In recent years, extragalactic astronomy dad de Chile and Yale University and now of R ~ 26.5.
at high redshift has been dominated by includes a total of 30 investigators from
deep multi-wavelength surveys. Examples Chile, Europe and USA, plus seven Ph.D.
of these surveys are the Hubble Deep students. The first data for this survey IR imaging
Fields and the Great Observatories Ori- were obtained in October 2002 and the
gins Deep Survey (GOODS). These are primary optical and near-IR imaging pro- Information at near-IR wavelengths is very
very deep surveys over a relatively narrow grammes are now finished, with follow- important as these bands provide use-
area of the sky, ~ 0.2 square degrees up spectroscopy and imaging (medium- ful information for photometric redshifts
or less. These surveys allow us to study band optical, Spitzer, sub-mm) ongoing. and at the same time trace the rest-frame
sources dimmer than the spectroscopic All data from this survey will be made optical light at high redshift. The near-
limit but suffer from significant sample public, with reduced images and cata- IR coverage of the MUSYC fields follows
variance, motivating a new generation of logues already available from the broad- two complementary approaches. Each
wider-area deep surveys that bridge band optical and near-IR imaging. In- 30; × 30; field was covered up to a mag-
the gap between HDF/GOODS and the structions for download of the data and nitude limit of K ~ 22; this is called the
shallower wide coverage of the Sloan more information about the survey can be ‘wide’ survey. Additionally, four 10; × 10;
Digital Sky Survey. The wide/deep sur- found at the webpage http://www.astro. regions were observed for longer periods
veys allow us to study a fair sample of the in JHK and Spitzer IRAC [3.6, 4.5, 5.8,
Universe at all redshifts z > 0.5 and to 8.0 and 24] microns as part of the ‘deep’

Field RA Dec U B v R I z; NB500 J H K Table 1: Optical positions and magni-

ECDF-S 03:32:29.0 –27:48:47 26.0 26.9 26.4 26.4 24.6 23.6 25.5 24.3 23.8 23.4 tude limits for each of the MUSYC
fields. RA is in hours, while Dec is in
SDSS1030 10:30:27.1 05:24:55 25.7 26.0 26.2 26.0 25.4 23.7 24.8 24.1 23.9 23.3
degrees. Depths are 5σ AB magni-
CW1255+01 12:55:40.0 01:07:00 26.0 26.2 26.1 26.0 25.0 24.1 24.4 24.0 22.8 23.0 tude limits for point sources. Except in
EHDF-S 22:32:35.6 – 60:47:12 26.0 26.1 26.0 25.8 24.7 23.6 24.1 24.3 23.4 23.4 ECDF-S, the near-IR depths corre-
spond to the ‘deep’ survey regions.

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 45

Astronomical Science Treister E. et al., Results from the MUSYC Survey

quen­cy radio imaging by ATCA. The

SDSS1030 field was observed by
XMM in X-rays for a total of ~ 100 ksec.

Spectroscopic data

An extensive spectroscopic follow-up

programme is underway. Optical spec-
troscopy uses the multiobject spectro­
graphs on 8-metre-class telescopes
in order to efficiently reach depths com­
parable to our photometry. This part of
the project uses the Visible Multiobject
Spectrograph (VIMOS) at the VLT and the
Inamori Magellan Areal Camera and
Spectrograph (IMACS) on the Baade tele-
scope at the Las Campanas Observa-
tory. The general MUSYC spectroscopic
programme uses medium-resolution
grisms, R ~ 500 for VIMOS and ~ 1000
for IMACS, since the main goal is to pro-
vide redshifts and basic identifications.
As it is not possible to obtain spectra for
all sources in our fields, only a small
­fraction, ~ 5 %, of the sources will be tar-
geted. Each mask contains ~ 100 objects
selected for specific science goals and
is observed for ~ 3–6 hours in order to
reach a magnitude limit of R ~ 24 in the
continuum. Near-IR spectroscopy has
SDSS1030 CW1255+01
been obtained for a sample of ~ 30 high-
redshift galaxies using VLT+SINFONI and
Figure 1: Optical images of the four taken in order to obtain a combined
30; × 30; fields in the MUSYC survey.
deep field of 19.5; × 10;. A composite RJK
image of one of the EHDF-S deep fields
survey. Spitzer magnitude limits are AB is shown in Figure 2. Additional informa-
~ 23–24 (5s) at 3.6 and 4.5 microns and tion and a description of the data reduc-
~ 21–22 at 5.7 and 8 microns, while tion can be found in Quadri et al. (2007b). Figure 2: RJK composite of one of the 10; × 10; deep
regions in the EHDF-S. These deep near-IR observa-
the exposure time in the MIPS 24 micron
tions allow for the detection of high-redshift galaxies
band is ~ 0.5–1 hour per field. In ECDF-S and highly obscured sources.
these data were taken over the full X-ray, UV, and radio imaging
31; × 31; field, with the Spitzer-IRAC cov-
erage comprising a Cycle 2 Legacy One of our fields is the Extended Chan-
­Survey (SIMPLE, PI van Dokkum) and the dra Deep Field-South, which includes
MIPS 24 micron coverage from GTO ob- Chandra imaging over 1 Ms of the famous
servations (PI Riecke). The near-IR imag- CDF-S and 250 ks over the 30; × 30; re-
ing was obtained using the Infrared Side- gion surrounding it. The ECDF-S was also
port Imager (ISPI) on the CTIO Blanco observed with XMM (~ 500 ks), with
4-metre telescope. This detector provides GALEX in the ultraviolet as part of their
a field of view of 10.5; × 10.5;, one of deep imaging programme, by the Hubble
the widest field cameras available in the space telescope Advanced Camera for
near-IR. In the particular case of the Surveys (ACS) as part of the GEMS and
ECDF-S, deep NIR coverage is provided GOODS surveys, and has received deep
by the GOODS survey, from data ob- radio coverage from VLA and ATCA.
tained using ISAAC at the VLT to depths The EHDF-S is the region surrounding the
of J ~ 25, H ~ 25 and K ~ 24. In the Hubble Deep Field South, a well-stud-
­EHDF-S, two adjacent deep fields were ied region of the sky including multi-fre-

46 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Galaxy formation and evolution 6 Figure 3: The U–V versus V–R col-
ours of LAEs at z = 3.1, showing spec­
troscopically confirmed LAEs (solid
Our rich multi-wavelength data set has ­circles), objects with insufficient sig-
yielded significant advances in under- nal-to-noise for spectroscopic classifi-
standing the nature of Lyman-Alpha-Emit- cation (open circles), and objects
­w ithout spectroscopy (crosses). The
ting galaxies (LAEs). Our narrowband 4 green dots show the entire 84 410 ob-
­imaging was used to select a sample jects in the optically-selected cata-
of 162 LAEs at 3.08 < z < 3.12; spectro- logue of ECDF-S. The polygon is the
scopic follow-up determined precise LBG selection region. The solid blue
U–Vcorr (AB)

curve shows the track of an LBG tem-

redshifts for 60 of these objects and
plate spectrum, which falls within
showed no evidence for contamination 2 this selection region at 2.8 < z < 3.4.
from lower-redshift emission-line galaxies The contribution of each LAE’s emis-
(Gawiser et al. 2006b). We measured sion line to its V-band flux has been
the continuum and emission-line luminos-
ity functions and found that the LAEs
have a median continuum magnitude of
R = 27 and very blue continuum colours,
similar to those of Lyman break galaxies
(LBG; see Figure 3). These blue colours
and the relative strength of Lyman alpha
and ultraviolet continuum emission imply –1.5 –1.0 – 0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
very little or no dust content, consistent Vcorr –R (AB)
with these galaxies being found in the
early stages of a burst of star formation. λrest (Å) Figure 4: Average UBVRIzJK
1000 2 000 3 000 4 000 5 000 ­broadband photometry of LAEs from
Our full SED analysis (see Figure 4) found
­G awiser et al. (2006b) along with
rapid star-formation rates (~ 6 M A /yr), low 3 best-fit model from SED fitting (solid),
Age = 0.09–+0.92
0.05 Gyr
stellar masses (~ 10 9 MA), and no evi- A v = 0.0–+0.1
with model parameters listed. The dot-
dence for a substantial AGN component SFR = 6 –1 M �/y
+2 ted curve shows a maximally old
model with stellar population age fixed
(only 3/162 LAEs are detected in X-rays). – 3 × 10 M �
M = 5 +41 8

to 2 Gyr (the age of the Universe at

The lack of ultra-high equivalent-widths, z = 3.1).
F λ (× 10 –19 ergs s–1 cm – 2 Å –1 )

as found in z > 4 LAEs, argues that

the z ~ 3 LAEs do not represent primor- 2
dial Pop III objects.

We have also applied our multi-wave-

length data to construct a stellar mass-
selected sample of 294 galaxies with 1
M > 10 11 MA at 2 < z < 3 (van Dokkum et
al. 2006). 70 % of this sample is com-
prised of the recently-discovered popula-
tion of Distant Red Galaxies (DRGs) hav-
ing J–K > 2.3 (Vega), and only 20 % have
the right rest-frame UV colours to be se- 0
0.5 1 1.5 2
lected as LBGs. The DRGs represent a λobs(µm)
mix of passive galaxies, with low star-for-
mation rates (Kriek et al. 2006), and dusty side in massive dark matter halos of Given the over 100 000 galaxies at z < 1
active galaxies, whose 24-micron Spitzer ~ 5 × 10 12 MA, while the subset of galax- on the MUSYC fields, all of them with ac-
detections imply an average star-forma- ies qualifying as DRGs reside in even curate photometric redshifts and many of
tion rate of ~ 130 MA/yr (Webb et al. more massive halos of ~ 2 × 10 13 MA them with spectroscopic identifications,
2006). We measured the rest-frame opti- (Quadri et al. 2007a). These halos are suf- it is possible to study them in a statisti­-
cal luminosity functions of K-selected ficiently massive that the typical descend- cal sense. Using data from three MUSYC
­galaxies at 2 < z < 3.5 and found a char- ants of K-selected galaxies at z > 2 will fields we have found that the cluster-
acteristic magnitude ~ 1.2 mags brighter reside in groups and clusters at z = 0. ing length increases slightly from z ≈ 0.3
than in the local Universe, but a space Several of the K-selected galaxies have to z = 0.9 while the mass of the galaxy
density ~ 5 times smaller (Marchesini et been identified as potential AGN hosts host halos are roughly constant at a value
al. 2007). The DRGs dominate the stellar based upon their [N ii]/H-alpha emission of Mh = 10 13.5 ± 1.2 MA for galaxies with
mass density of the Universe in this red- line ratio, and it appears that AGN are MR < –17 in the same redshift range. From
shift range. A clustering analysis of galax- preferentially found in the most massive the GALEX ultraviolet data in the ECDF-S,
ies with K < 21 (Vega) found that they re- galaxies at z > 2 (Kriek et al. 2007). we can conclude that elliptical galaxies

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 47

Astronomical Science Treister E. et al., Results from the MUSYC Survey

at z > 0.5 still show a significant recent Figure 5: Hardness ratio

1 versus hard X-ray lumi-
star formation, more than what was origi- Normal Gal. AGN Quasars nosity for the sources
nally expected. This amount of star for-

with measured redshift
mation remains constant up to z ~ 1, con- in the ECDF-S. Blue
trary to late-type galaxies, which show symbols show the loca-
tion of the sources clas-
an increase in the star-formation rate with 0.5 sified as unobscured
increasing redshift. AGN based on their op-
tical spectra (presence
HR (H–S)/(H+S)

of broad emission lines).

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)
In order to correlate the AGN activity with
the properties of the supermassive black
holes found in the centres of the most
massive galaxies, a large unbiased sam-
– 0.5
ple of AGN to high redshifts is required.
Surveys that rely on the optical proper-
ties of AGN (blue continuum, broad emis-

sion lines) often miss a large number of
sources, those in which obscuration in –1
the line of sight is present. In order to ob-
tain a more complete AGN sample, X-ray 10 40 10 41 10 42 10 43 10 44 10 45 10 46
and IR observations are critical, as the ef- Hard X-ray Lum (erg s –1 )
fects of obscuration are less important
at these wavelengths. One of the MUSYC
fields, the ECDF-S, was completely cov-
ered by Chandra observations. Based on
the data analysis and reduction of Virani with clear X-ray and near-IR detections, The structure of our Galaxy
et al. (2006), 651 unique X-ray sources but no detectable optical counterpart.
were found in that field. An identification Two competing hypotheses have been Unlike most deep surveys, MUSYC has
programme is ongoing using IMACS and proposed to explain these sources: either been designed with Galactic science
VIMOS. So far, ~ 250 X-ray sources have they are at very high redshift, z > 6 so in mind. Multiple epochs of optical imag-
been observed. that the Lyman break is moved beyond ing are being used to conduct a prop-
the optical bands; or they are highly ob- er-motion survey to find white dwarfs and
Combining the spectroscopic redshifts scured AGN at z ~ 2–3 with underlumi- brown dwarfs in order to study Galactic
with the optical, near-IR and X-ray fluxes nous host galaxies. In either case, given structure and the local Initial Mass Func-
provides important clues about the their X-ray fluxes, these sources should tion. The Galactic programme also in-
AGN population. In Figure 5, we show the host an AGN. In the ECDF-S we found 12 cludes the study of stellar statistics. One
hard X-ray luminosity (in the 2–8 keV X-ray sources not detected in the com- of the first results was the measure-
band) versus ‘Hardness ratio’ diagram. bined BVR image, but clearly detected ment of the Galactic scale height from a
The hardness ratio, defined as (H–S)/ in the K-band image. Contrary to the sample of M and K stars selected on
(H+S) where H and S are the count rates sources in the CDF-S proper/GOODS-S the basis of their photometric properties.
in the hard and soft, 0.5–2 keV, bands, is field, which are very faint even in the The Galactic thick disc has a scale height
a measure of how hard the observed near-IR bands (K > 21 mag), our sources of ~ 900 par­secs, while the halo, which
X-ray spectrum is. As can be seen in that are on average brighter, with four of them does not have an exponential distribution,
figure, the most luminous sources are having K < 20 and thus follow-up studies has a power law fall-off coefficient of – 3.5
in general also harder, and are also clas- are possible. In particular, our ongoing to – 4.5.
sified as unobscured AGN based on their near-IR spectroscopy programme using
optical properties (presence of broad Gemini-S+GNIRS and SINFONI at the
emission lines). This shows that there are VLT will provide secure redshifts and References
relatively more unobscured AGN at higher confirm the nature of these sources. Cur- Gawiser E. et al. 2006a, ApJS 162, 1
luminosities, and, as expected, these rently, no EXO has a measured spectro- Gawiser E. et al. 2006b, ApJ 642, L13
sources have softer X-ray spectra, as ob- scopic redshift. Kriek M. et al. 2006, ApJ 649, L71
scuration makes the observed X-ray Kriek M. et al. 2007, ApJ, in press, astro-ph/0611724
Marchesini D. et al. 2007, ApJ 656, 45
spectra harder. Quadri R. et al. 2007a, ApJ 654, 138
Quadri R. et al. 2007b, AJ, in press,
One very interesting class of objects are astro-ph/0612612
the Extreme X-ray to Optical sources Van Dokkum P. G. et al. 2006, ApJ 638, L59
Virani S. et al. 2006, AJ 131, 2373
(EXOs), which are defined as sources Webb T. M. A. et al. 2006, ApJ 636, L17

48 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical Science

Weighing Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies

in the Fornax Cluster

Michael Hilker 1 ade, thanks to several large spectro- ties. Unlike globular clusters which are
Holger Baumgardt 2 scopic surveys in nearby galaxy clusters. characterised by a more or less constant
Leopoldo Infante 3 size (~ 3 pc half-light radius), the sizes
Michael Drinkwater 4 Compact objects with masses greater of UCDs increase with luminosity rea-
Ekaterina Evstigneeva 4 than those of normal globular clusters ching half-light radii of ~ 100 pc. Some of
Michael Gregg 5 were only discovered about 10 years ago. the brighter UCDs exhibit a small low-­
In 1999, two bright compact objects surface-brightness envelope with exten­
were confirmed as members of the For- sions up to ­several hundred parsecs.
ESO nax cluster in a spectroscopic survey Most of the brightest UCDs have slightly
 rgelander-Institut für Astronomie,
A that was designed as a follow-up of a ­subsolar metallicities ([Fe/H] ~ – 0.5 dex),
­Universität Bonn, Germany photometric investigation of dwarf ellipti- ­similar to the ‘red’, metal-rich bulge GCs
Departamento de Astronomía y Astrofí- cals in the Fornax cluster (Hilker et al. of giant galaxies.
sica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de 1999). One year later, in 2000, a system-
Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile atic spectroscopic survey within a two- In summary, one might say that the name
Department of Physics, University of degree field centred on Fornax revealed ‘ultracompact dwarf galaxies’ (UCDs) ap-
Queensland, Brisbane, Australia five compact members in the magnitude plies to old stellar systems in the transi-
Department of Physics, University of range –13.5 < MV < –12.0 (Drinkwater tion region between globular clusters and
California, Davis, California, USA et al. 2000) which were one year later compact dwarf galaxies.
dubbed ‘Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies’
(UCDs) by Phillipps et al. (2001). In Fig-
High-resolution spectra from the Ultra­ ure 1 we show the location of the seven Formation scenarios for UCDs
violet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph brightest UCDs in the Fornax cluster.
(UVES) were used to derive internal An important question that is keeping
­velocity dispersions of Ultracompact We now know several physical properties UCD researchers busy is whether UCDs
Dwarf galaxies (UCDs) in the Fornax of UCDs thanks to significant growth in should be regarded as galaxies or
cluster of galaxies. The velocity disper- this research field. After the first discovery whether they are more closely linked to
sions, together with highly spatially re- of UCDs in the Fornax cluster (summa- globular clusters. Various formation
solved luminosity profiles from Hubble rised in a Nature article by Drinkwater et ­scenarios have been suggested that re-
Space Telescope imaging (ACS cam- al. in 2003), many surveys were devel­ flect the different viewpoints. The four
era), allowed us to derive the dynamical oped to search for UCDs in different en­ most promising are:
masses of the UCDs. We show that the vironments and at fainter magnitudes.
mass-to-light ratios of UCDs in Fornax Bright UCDs were also found in the Virgo 1. UCDs are the remnant nuclei of galax-
are consistent with those expected for cluster, and fainter ones in both clusters. ies that have been significantly stripped
pure stellar populations. No dark matter With absolute magnitudes in the range in the cluster environment (‘threshing’
contribution is needed. Thus, these MV = –13.5 to –11.0 they are up to 3 mag scenario, e.g. Bekki et al. 2003). Good
UCDs seem to be the result of star-clus- brighter than ω Centauri, the most mas- candidates for isolated nuclei in the
ter formation processes within galaxies, sive globular cluster (GC) of the Milky local environment are the Galactic
rather than being compact dwarf galax- Way, but about 3 mag fainter than M32. globular clusters ω Centauri and the
ies formed in dark-matter halos. Their sizes are related to their luminosi- giant star cluster G1 in Andromeda.

Dwarf galaxies have only been exten-

sively studied in the last three decades.
Dwarf spheroidals are considered to be
the faintest galaxies, having baryonic
masses comparable to those of bright
globular clusters (~ 10 6 MA), but are 50–
200 times more extended. It has been
believed that dwarf galaxies are diffuse Figure 1: Panoramic
structures, with the exception of the com- view of the Fornax clus-
ter with its population
pact elliptical M32, a companion of the of UCDs. The back-
Andromeda galaxy, which is ~ 8–10 times ground image was taken
smaller than dwarf ellipticals of compara- with the Michigan Curtis
ble luminosities, but about 150 times Schmidt Telescope
at the Cerro Tololo Ob-
more luminous than the brightest globular servatory. Insets are
clusters of the Local Group. The gap in HST/STIS images of five
luminosity between globular clusters and UCDs in Fornax and a
compact dwarf galaxies has started to be nucleated dwarf elliptical
galaxy in Fornax (far
filled in observationally over the last dec- UCD1 UCD2 UCD3 UCD4 UCD5 dEN

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 49

Astronomical Science Hilker M. et al., Weighing Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies

If this formation channel is viable one Figure 2: A composite image of the

central region of the Fornax cluster
would not expect a dark matter com-
based on data acquired at the 2.5-m
ponent in UCDs since ‘threshing’ sim­ DuPont telescope at the Las Cam-
ulations show that the dark matter panas Observatory. Images in the fil-
halo of dwarf galaxies is completely ters B, V, I and were combined to
make the colour composite. The insets
stripped within a few Gyrs. In Figure 2
show HST/STIS images of a UCD
we show a UCD and a nucleated dwarf (upper) and a nucleated dwarf elliptical
elliptical in comparison. Both are lo- galaxy (lower).
cated in the very heart of the Fornax

2. UCDs were formed from the agglom­

eration of many young, massive
star clusters that were created during
merg­er events (e.g. Fellhauer and
Kroupa 2002). Such super-star cluster
complexes are observed in interacting
galaxies like the Antennae. In this for-
mation process no dark matter would
be involved.
Visual Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) at was used with some slight modifications.
3. UCDs are the brightest globular clus- the VLT is an ideal instrument to solve the The spectral resolution of the final, re-
ters and were formed in the same GC UCD riddle. duced spectra was ~ 8 km s –1. The sig-
formation event as their less massive nal-to-noise ranged between 10 and
counterparts (e.g. Mieske et al. 2004). 20 at 5 900 Å. In Figure 3 we show spec-
The most massive GCs then suppos- UVES spectroscopy tra of the four UCDs and four reference
edly formed from the most massive stars in the wavelength region of the So-
molecular clouds (MCs) of their host High-resolution spectra were obtained dium (Na) doublet absorption lines. Such
galaxy. The luminosity-size relation of for four Fornax UCDs, one nucleus of a absorption lines are important features
the most massive clusters suggests dwarf elliptical and several reference to measure the internal velocity disper-
that there is a break of the formation/ stars (mostly red giant stars) in service sion of the UCDs. One can clearly see
collapse physics at a critical MC mass. mode at the VLT in 2000/2001. The in­ that UCD absorption lines are broadened
Also in this case no dark matter in tegration times were between one and six with respect to the ones of the reference
UCDs is expected. hours, depending on the brightness of stars. This broadening is caused by the
the UCD. For the reduction of the spec- internal velocity dispersion of stars popu-
4. UCDs are genuine compact dwarf tra, the UVES pipeline, provided by ESO, lating the UCDs.
­galaxies, formed in small dark-matter
halos at the low mass end of cosmo-
logical substructure. This scenario has 1
the advantage that no external proc-
esses, like mergers or tidal disruption,
are needed. A considerable dark- [Fe/H] = –1.18 HD41667 UCD2
­matter component is expected if this
formation channel applies. 1

Normalised Flux

How can a massive star cluster be dis-

cerned from a low-mass compact gal- [Fe/H] = – 0.87 HD20038 UCD3
axy? The answer may be hidden in the
seen and unseen mass of UCDs. Dwarf 1
galaxies are expected to be dark matter
dominated, globular clusters are not.
[Fe/H] = – 0.60 HD17233 UCD4
Thus, the best way to distinguish be- 0
tween these two possibilities is to meas-
ure the masses of UCDs. In order to 1
do so we need to measure the motion of Figure 3: UVES spectra
0.5 of four standard stars
stars within UCDs with high-resolution (left) and four UCDs
[Fe/H] = – 0.14 HR296 UCD5
spectroscopy. The faster their motion, the 0 (right) around the wave-
larger the UCD mass. The Ultraviolet and 5 860 5 880 5 900 5 920 5 940 5 880 5 900 5 920 5 940 5 960 length region of the Na
λ(Å) λ(Å) doublet.

50 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Internal velocity dispersions Figure 4: Illustration of velocity
­dis­p ersion measurement for UCD3.

Normalised Flux
The kinematic analysis of the spectra was
performed using a direct-fitting method 0.5
(van der Marel and Franx 1993). First, the
spectra were placed on a logarithmic UCD3
wavelength scale and normalised. Then,
the reference star spectra were con-
Normalised Flux
volved with Gaussian velocity dispersion
profiles in the range 2 to 60 km s –1. All
UCD spectra were fitted with all sets of
Na I (D2) Na I (D1)
smoothed ‘template’ spectra. In this HD20038
process the template spectra are shifted
in wavelength and scaled to match the
Normalised Flux

redshifts and absorption strengths of the
UCD spectra. The best-fitting Gaussian
velocity dispersion profile is determined
by χ 2 minimisation in pixel space. Fig- UCD3 + HD20038 (shifted, broadened and scaled)
ure 4 illustrates the fitting method for the 5 860 5 880 5 900 5 920 5 940
brightest UCD in the Na doublet region. λ(Å)
The reference spectrum (middle panel) is
shifted, broadened and scaled to match To derive the masses of the UCDs a new mass distri­bution and the projected ve-
the target spectrum (lower panel). modelling program has been developed locity dispersion profile that simultane-
that allows to choose between different ously fit the observed velocity dispersion
The velocity dispersions of the Fornax representations of the surface brightness and the light profile of UCD2 are shown.
UCDs, derived from this method, range profile of UCDs (i.e. Nuker, Sersic or King
between 22 and 30 km s –1, with ­errors laws) and corrects the observed velocity
of 1–3 km s –1. These velocity dispersions dispersions for observational parameters
are larger than those of ‘normal’ globular (i.e. seeing, slit size). The light-profile
clusters (~ 5–15 km s –1). ­parameters of the UCDs were obtained Figure 5: Model output for UCD2. Grey dots repre-
from Hubble Space Telescope imaging sent 100 000 test particles. Blue dots are those
(Evstigneeva et al. 2007). In general, ‘stars’ whose centres fall into the analysed slit area.
The red circle (and red dashed line on the right) indi-
Mass modelling King models are good re­presentations of cates the projected half-light radius of UCD2. The
globular cluster light profiles. UCDs, how- right panels show, from top to bottom, the three-di-
As outlined above, the masses and ever, are better fitted by Nuker or gen­ mensional density distribution, the cumulative mass
mass-to-light ratios of the UCDs are im- eralised King laws, es­pecially in the outer distribution and the projected velocity dispersion
profile for three different light-profile representations
portant physical parameters for under- parts. Figure 5 illustrates the model out- of UCD2. The vertical short dashed line indicates
standing their origin. In particular, the put of our program. The three-dimen- the radius of 1 ACS pixel and the dotted line half the
mass-to-light ratio (M/L) can be used as sional density distribution, the cumulative slit width.
an indicator for the presence of dark
­matter and/or the violation of dynamical
equilibrium. If UCDs were the counter-
parts of globular clusters – thus a single
UCD2 (generalised King) gen. King
stellar population without significant 400
log (ρ(r))

–5 Sersic
amounts of dark matter – one would ex- Nuker
pect M/L values as predicted by stand-
ard single stellar population models (e.g. 200
­Maraston 2005). If UCDs are of cosmo-
M (< r) (× 10 7 M � )

logical origin – formed in small, compact 2

y (pc)

dark-matter halos – they might be dom­ 0

inated by dark matter and show a high
M/L value. Mass-to-light ratios that are 0
larger than expected from single stel- – 200
lar populations can, however, also be

caused by objects that are out of dynami- 20

cal equilibrium, e.g. tidally disturbed stel- – 400
lar systems. 0
– 400 – 200 0 200 400 0 1 2 3
x (pc) log (radius) (pc)

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 51

Astronomical Science Hilker M. et al., Weighing Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies

The masses of the UCDs derived in this

way range between 1.8 and 9.5 × 10 7 MA. 10 Maraston (2005) Kroupa IMF
[α/Fe] = 0.3
For comparison, the mass of the most
massive Galactic globular cluster, ω Cen- 8
tauri is ~ 0.5 × 10 7 MA. The baryonic 15
mass of Local Group dwarf spheroidals is M/L V
comparable to that of UCDs.
Dynamical versus stellar masses 2

Knowing the age and the metal content 15

of a stellar population, one can, in prin­ 10 Maraston (2005) Salpeter IMF
[α/Fe] = 0.3
ciple, predict its total mass. This is the
task of stellar population models. A non- 8
trivial ingredient of these models is the

­initial mass function (IMF) of the stars in 6

the stellar population. The shape of the
IMF, i.e. whether there are more or less 4
low-mass stars as compared to high- Gyr

mass stars, influences the total M/L ratio 2

of a stellar population.
–2 –1 0 0.8 1 1.2 1.4
We have compared the derived dynami- [Z/H] (dex) (V–I) 0 (mag)
cal masses of UCDs in Fornax to those
expected from stellar population models. Figure 6: Dynamical M/LV ratios of Fornax UCDs (red
circles) and the ­nucleus of FCC303 (red triangle) are
The dynamical M/LV of the UCDs range
compared to expected M/LV values from stellar pop-
between 3 and 5 MA /LA, v. In Figure 6 we ulation models of various ages (blue lines). On the
show these M/LV values as a function left, M/LV is plotted versus metallicity [Z/H], on the
of metallicity [Z/H] and as a function of right versus the colour (V– I) 0. The adopted IMFs are
indicated in the right panels.
(V–I) colour (taken from Mieske at al.
2006). Results for the dwarf elliptical nu-
cleus (FCC303) and a fifth UCD in Fornax
(Drinkwater et al. 2003) are also shown
in this figure. The difference between as-
suming a Kroupa or Salpeter IMF is that mine their ages and abundances for a re- What is the chemical abundance pat­-
a Salpeter IMF implies that two of five liable comparison with stellar population tern of UCDs? What is their luminosity
Fornax UCDs would be dominated by in- models. weighted age? Why do some UCDs have
termediate-age populations of ~ 5 Gyr. quite high M/L ratios? Is this due to tidal
Using a Kroupa IMF all UCDs are compat­ We conclude that ultracompact dwarf disturbances? Or do they contain dark
ible with old, galactic globular clus­ter-like galaxies are most probably the result of matter? Do UCDs harbour black holes?
ages. Figure 6 suggests that the M/L V star cluster formation processes within
values of the UCDs can, in principle, be galaxies – i.e. large globular clusters, as- Some of these questions will be an-
explained by pure stellar populations. sembled star cluster complexes, nuclear swered in the next years with the help of
Dark matter is not mandatory for any of star clusters – rather than being genu- ongoing and future observing pro-
the objects. This conclusion, however, ine cosmological substructures them- grammes (in particular with the VLT).
applies to the central region, where we selves – i.e. compact galaxies formed
have the data covered by our spectro- in small, compact dark-matter halos. No
scopic observations (within 1– 3 half-mass dark-matter component is needed References
radii). It cannot be ruled out that UCDs for UCDs with­in 1–3 half-mass radii. Bekki K. et al. 2003, MNRAS 344, 399
are dominated by dark matter at large Drinkwater M. J. et al. 2003, Nature 423, 519
radii where high signal-to-noise spectra Evstigneeva E. A. et al. 2007, AJ 133, 1722
cannot easily be obtained due to the very Future prospects Fellhauer M. and Kroupa P. 2006, MNRAS 367, 1577
Hilker M. et al. 2007, A&A 463, 119
low surface brightness. Also, high-qual- Hilker M. et al. 1999, A&AS 134, 75
ity (high signal-to-noise) spectroscopic While we have good ideas about the pos- Maraston C. 2005, MNRAS 362, 799
data are needed to better constrain the sible origin of UCDs, there are many Mieske S., Hilker M. and Infante L. 2004, A&A 418,
Fornax UCD metallicities and to deter- questions left to answer concerning their 445
Mieske S. et al. 2006, AJ 131, 2442
nature. Some important ones include: Do Phillipps S. et al. 2001, ApJ 560, 201
UCDs have multiple stellar populations? van der Marel R. P. and Franx M. 1993, ApJ 407, 525

52 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical Science

VLT/FORS Surveys of Wolf-Rayet Stars beyond

the Local Group: Type Ib/c Supernova Progenitors?

Paul A. Crowther, Lucy J. Hadfield ­ nless hydrogen-rich material is mixed

u ­ xternal galaxies. Notably, narrowband
(University of Sheffield, United Kingdom) downwards from the outer zones. interference filter techniques have been
independently developed by Moffat and
Once the core hydrogen is exhausted, the Massey that permit their detection from
Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars are the chemical- star leaves the main sequence and be- their strong emission lines at He ii λ 4686
­ly evolved descendents of O stars, comes a blue supergiant, and ultimately a (WN stars) and C iii λ 4650 (WC stars)
such that they trace massive star forma­ red supergiant (RSG) for stars with initial with respect to their nearby continuum.
tion. Here we present results of recent mass up to perhaps 20–30 MA. Observa- Such techniques have been applied to
VLT/FORS surveys of WR stars in near­- tionally, there is an absence of luminous regions of the Milky Way disc, the Magel-
by spiral and irregular galaxies and RSGs, known as the Humphreys-David- lanic Clouds and other Local Group gal-
­consider individual WR stars as progen- son limit, such that initially more massive axies.
itors of Type Ib/c core-collapse super- stars circumvent the RSG phase, pass
novae. Young massive clusters hosting through a Luminous Blue Variable stage, It is well established that the absolute
large WR populations may be used as before ending their life as Wolf-Rayet number of WR stars and their subtype
templates for high-redshift Lyman break (WR) stars, exhibiting either the products distribution are metallicity dependent.
galaxies. of core-H burning (WN subtypes) or sub­ N(WR)/N(O) ~ 0.15 in the relatively metal-
sequent core-He burning (WC, WO sub- rich Solar Neighbourhood, yet N(WR)/
types). N(O) ~ 0.01 in the metal-deficient SMC on
Massive stellar evolution the basis of only 12 WR stars versus
Consequently, the prime candidates for ~ 1000 O stars (Crowther 2007). This ob-
Massive stars form in star clusters with- core-collapse SN are RSG and WR stars servational dependence follows since
in star-forming galaxies, pollute the in­ for H-rich (Type II) and H-poor (Type Ib/c) the hydrogen-rich envelopes of O stars
terstellar medium, injecting energy and cases, respectively. Indeed, within the are more easily removed at high metallic-
momentum via powerful stellar winds and past few years a direct connection has ity. O-type stars possess strong winds
core-collapse supernovae (SNe). The de- been established between certain Type Ic that are driven by metallic lines (primarily
tection of massive stars within Lyman- SNe and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), CNO and Fe-peak elements), for which
break galaxies at high redshift, either di- ­supporting the collapsar model in which the e ­ mpirical dependence upon metallic-
rectly via their UV continua or indirect­ly the GRB results from the death throes of ity Z is M ∝ Z 0.8 for stars between SMC
via ionised H ii regions, provides some of a rapidly rotating WR star. and Milky Way metallicities (Mokiem et al.
the most stringent constraints upon their 2007).
physical properties. Relative to lower-mass stars, the evolu-
tion of high-mass stars is complicated by: Attempts have been made with 4-m
The Initial Mass Function favours the for- (a) the metallicity dependence of their ra- ­telescopes to extend the interference fil-
mation of low- and intermediate-mass diatively line-driven stellar winds, produc- ter technique to star-forming galaxies
stars with respect to high-mass stars, for ing weaker winds at low metallicity; and ­beyond the Local Group, although this
which the boundary is conventionally (b) their initial rotational velocities, provid- proved to be challenging (e.g. Testor and
set at 8 M A – the division between stars ing rotationally-induced mixing within their Schild 1993). The advent of efficient multi-
ultimately forming a CO white dwarf or interiors. It is only within the past decade object spectrographs such as FORS1/2
an iron core, the latter subsequently un- that allowance for both effects has been at the Very Large Telescope has permit-
dergoing a core-collapse SN. Spectro- considered within evolutionary models, ted surveys of WR populations in galaxies
scopically, stars with initial masses of most recently implemented into spectral at distances beyond 2 Mpc (Table 1). An
8–20 M A are B-type dwarfs on the main synthesis models (Vazquez et al. 2007). example of our FORS1 imaging approach
sequence, or O-type dwarfs at higher is presented in Figure 1 for the barred
­initial mass. Such high-mass stars pos- spiral galaxy NGC 1313 (see also the cov­-
sess convective cores, and radiative Surveys of Wolf-Rayet stars in star-form- er page of the current Messenger). The
­envelopes, a situation reversed in the Sun ing spiral galaxies boxed region 60 × 60 arcsec in size with-
and other low-mass stars. Although there in NGC 1313 hosts in excess of twen-
is energy transport from the convective WR stars exhibit a unique, broad emis- ty WR stars, most of which are within a
and radiative regions, only the convective sion line spectral appearance which pro- large giant H ii region. Overall, the suc-
core participates in nuclear reactions, vides the basis for their detection in cess rate of identifying WR stars from

Galaxy D (Mpc) log (O/H)+12 N (O7V) N(WN) N(WC) Reference Table 1: Summary of southern star-
NGC 300 1.9 8.6: 800 ≥ 16 ~ 15: Schild et al. 2003; Crowther et al. 2007 forming galaxies whose WR pop-
ulations have been surveyed with
NGC 1313 4.1 8.2 6 500 ≥ 51: ~ 33: Hadfield and Crowther 2007
FORS1/2 to date. The O star contents
M83 4.5 9.0? 40 000 ≥ 470 ≥ 560 Hadfield et al. 2005 are based upon a SFR for an assumed
NGC 3125 11.5 8.4 3 600 200 40 Hadfield and Crowther 2006 O7 V Lyman continuum flux of 10 49 per
second, omitting regions excluded
from our WR surveys, i.e. the outer
disc of NGC 300 and the nuclear star-
burst of M83.

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 53

Astronomical Science Crowther P. A., Hadfield L. J., VLT/FORS Surveys of Wolf-Rayet Stars

2005). This observational trend led to

suggestions that early-type WC stars are
richer in carbon than late-type WC stars.
However, quantitative analysis of WC
subtypes, allowing for radiative transfer
effects, do not support a subtype de-
pendence of elemental abundances in
WC stars.

In contrast, Crowther et al. (2002) pro-

posed that late spectral types follow in
metal-rich environments, and early types
at low metallicity due to metallicity de-
pendent WR winds. Indeed, WO stars
(extreme WC early types) are preferen-
tially seen at low metallicity. Consequent-
ly, the representative WC subtype of a
galaxy permits an estimate of its metallic-
ity. Metal-poor WR stars possess harder
Lyman continuum ionising flux distribu-
tions than high-metallicity counterparts,
in agreement with the association of neb­
ular He ii λ 4686 with low-metallicity WR
stars (e.g. Hadfield and Crowther 2007).

Evolutionary models for the Wolf-Rayet

stage have typically assumed metallicity
independent mass-loss rates, which both
observational and theoretical evidence
now challenges. The metallicity depend-
ence of WN winds appears to be similar
to O stars, with a somewhat weaker de-
pendence for WC stars due to their high
carbon and oxygen abundances; the
­latter is of relevance to the observed ratio
of WC to WN stars predicted by evolu-
tionary models (Eldridge and Vink 2006).

B Net He II Net Hα One related topic involves the search

for Wolf-Rayet stars in close binary sys-
tems with neutron-star or black-hole
Figure 1: The upper panel shows a composite the Solar Neighbourhood. In contrast, companions. Such systems represent a
FORS1 image of NGC 1313 (ESO Press Photo
WN stars exceed WC stars by a factor of natural, though rare, end state for close
43a/06) showing a 60 × 60 arcsec box, for which the
lower panels show FORS1 images of broadband B, ~ 5 and ~ 10 for the LMC and SMC, re- binary evolution, for which Cyg X-3 in the
continuum subtracted He ii 4686 (excesses are spectively (Crowther 2007). At low metal- Milky Way has been the sole example
shown in white), continuum subtracted Ha, from left licity the reduced WR population and up until recently. The combination of high
to right.
the relative dominance of WN subtypes spatial resolution X-ray surveys plus our
most likely results from the metallicity de- WR surveys of nearby galaxies has in-
our FORS surveys is high. For the case pendence of winds from their evolution- creased this number to three, IC 10 X-1 in
of NGC 1313 we have identified 94 can­ ary precursors. Consequently, only the the northern sky, and NGC 300 X-1 in the
didate WR stars, for which a subset most massive single stars reach the WR south, both of which are probable WR
of 83 % have been spectroscopically ob- phase in metal-poor environments. plus black-hole systems (e.g. Crowther et
served. Within this subset, 90 % of the al. 2007).
sources have been spectroscopically Not all WR subtypes are observed in all
confirmed as WR stars, as indicated in environments. Early-type WN and WC
Figure 2 (Hadfield and Crowther 2007). subtypes dominate in metal-poor galax-
ies, such as the SMC, while late WC stars
Regarding WN and WC subtype distribu- are more common at super-Solar met­
tions, similar numbers are observed in allicities, such as M83 (Hadfield et al.

54 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Type Ib/c supernova and gamma-ray 7 Figure 2: Representative early-type
WN (upper panel) and WC (lower
burst progenitors?
6 panel) stars identified in our NGC 1313


survey (Hadfield and Crowther 2007),
At solar metallicity, stars initially more together with average LMC template
massive than ~ 25 MA apparently end spectra (shown in red) from Crowther

Flux (10 –17 erg s–1 cm – 2 Å–1 )


and Hadfield (2006).
their lives as either a nitrogen-rich (WN) 4
or carbon-rich (WC) WR star. WN and NGC 1313 #21


E(B–V) = 0.29
WC stars are believed to be the immedi- 3
ate progenitors for a subset of Type Ib
(H-poor) and Type Ic (H and He-poor) su- 2
NGC 1313 #33
E(B–V) = 0.29
pernovae, respectively. Alternatively,
lower-mass binaries may produce Type Ib 1

(Type Ic) SN in which H (both H and He) WN2–4 LMC template

has been stripped away due to Roche 0
4 600 4 800 5 000 5 200 5 400 5 600 5 800 6 000
lobe overflow and/or common envelope Wavelength (Å)

evolution. Some Type Ib/c SN do occur in

elliptical/S0 host galaxies – explicitly 4 2.5

from 50 Type Ib/c SNe within the last

decade within 50 Mpc – in favour of such 2.0

lower-mass progenitors. Nevertheless,

the vast majority are preferentially in ac-
Flux (10 –16 erg s–1 cm – 2 Å–1 )

tively star-forming galaxies. So are most 1.5

NGC 1313 #10
Type Ib/c SN from massive WR stars or E(B–V) = 0.29 C IV

lower-mass interacting binaries?


To date, broadband surveys of local

NGC 1313 #81
(≤ 10 Mpc) star-forming galaxies have 0.5 E(B–V) = 0.29
been undertaken with Hubble Space
Tele­scope and ground-based 8-m tele- WC4 LMC template
scopes by groups in the UK and US. 0.0
4 600 4 800 5 000 5 200 5 400 5 600 5 800 6 000
These have been successful in identifying Wavelength (Å)

RSG progenitors of the most common

core-collapse SN (Type II-P, Smartt et al. of 4.5 Mpc. If we are able to study ~ 10 2003). These favour the ‘collapsar’ sce-
2004). Unfortunately, WR stars are vis­ nearby galaxies with such a high SFR, we nario, involving the core collapse of a ro-
ually much fainter than RSG and may not would sample in excess of 10 4 WR stars. tating Wolf-Rayet star to a black hole via
be distinguished from blue supergiants Statistically one of those stars would an accretion disc, in which the rotation-
on the basis of existing broadband sur- be ­expected to collapse to a Type Ib/c SN al axis provides a preferred direction for
veys alone. Observationally, SN 2002ap within the next decade, given that WR the jet (MacFadyen and Woosley 1999).
(Type Ic) in M74 so far provides the most ­lifetimes are ~ 10 5 yr. Indeed, we have al- Hammer et al. (2006) identify WR stars
stringent constraints upon a potential ready come close to success. Our FORS1 within a giant H ii region of ESO 184–G82
WR progenitor, revealing an upper limit of narrowband imaging of the merging several hundred pc from the location of
MB = – 4.2 mag (Crockett et al. 2007). ­‘Antennae’ galaxies (NGC 4038/9) for WR SN 1998bw = GRB 980425, and propose
The precursor of SN 2002ap was either a stars was obtained in June 2005, sadly that the GRB progenitor was ejected from
relatively faint WC star, or more likely a six months after the Type Ic SN 2004gt. the WR cluster.
lower-mass binary system.
Of course, astrometry is rather challeng- Rotation is critically important since the
One application of our WR surveys with ing from ground-based imaging. High collapsar model involves highly collimated
the VLT would be to establish whether spatial resolution imaging helps greatly, jets produced along the polar axes, due
a WR star was the progenitor of a future as indicated in Figure 3 where we com- to a dense, equatorial accretion disc
Type Ib/c SN, if it occurred in one of our pare the location of a (rare) WO star in feed­ing the central black hole. At low me-
­surveyed galaxies. For the case of M83, NGC 1313, identified from FORS1 nar- tallicity, the spin-down induced by me-
we have identified in excess of 1000 WR rowband imaging and spectroscopic fol- chanical mass-loss during the Wolf-Rayet
stars within the galactic disc. The star-­ low-up, to HST/ACS broadband imaging. phase may be avoided due to the re­
formation rate (SFR) in M83 may be latively weak winds, resulting in sufficient
­estimated from its global Ha flux of 7 × This general topic has received renewed angular momentum in the core upon core
10 –11 erg s –1 cm –2 (Kennicutt, priv. interest since a number of nearby, bright collapse. Of course, only a tiny fraction
comm.), corrected for average extinction Type Ic SNe have been observationally of SNe produce a GRB, with an apparent
(E B–V ~ 0.5 mag), i.e. a SFR of 4.3 M A yr –1 associated with several nearby GRBs (e.g. bias towards metal-poor environments
(Kennicutt 1998) for an adopted distance SN 2003dh = GRB 030329 Hjorth et al. (Modjaz et al. submitted) with re­spect to

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 55

Astronomical Science Crowther P. A., Hadfield L. J., VLT/FORS Surveys of Wolf-Rayet Stars

to a spatial scale of ~ 10 pc. Relatively cases, most notably a young massive

iso­lated WR stars have been identified, cluster within NGC 3125, alias Tol 3
albeit in the minority (recall Figure 3). This (Chandar et al. 2004). This LMC-metallic-
is even more problematic for more dis- ity galaxy is dominated by a central star-
tant galaxies such as M83 where the burst region which consists of two main
great majority of WR stars are observed emission knots, NGC 3125-A and -B,
in clusters or associations (Hadfield et al. shown in Figure 4. From UV spectros-
2005). copy, Chandar et al. (2004) estimated
5 000 WR stars for a cluster within knot
So-called ‘WR galaxies’ are typically star- A, with a remarkable N(WR)/N(O) ≥ 1. In
burst regions exhibiting spectral features contrast, optical studies of NGC 3125-A
from tens, hundreds, or even thousands infer a WR population that is an order
of WR stars. Indeed, such knots of star of magnitude lower, in better agreement
formation, hosting young massive clus- with the relative massive star content
ters (~ 10 6 MA) often reveal significant WR of other local starburst galaxies. If NGC
populations, seen at UV or visual wave-
lengths. Their appearance is reminiscent Figure 4: Composite B, V, Ha HST/ACS image of
of the composite rest-frame UV spectrum NGC 3125 (20 × 20 arcsec = 1 × 1 kpc) in which
young massive clusters within knot A (upper right)
of z ~ 3 star-forming galaxies (~ 1010–11 MA) and knot B (lower left) host significant WR popu­
which also show broad He ii λ 1640 emis- lations (Hadfield and Crowther 2006). Insets are
sion (Shapley et al. 2003). ­c omposite U, V and I ACS images for the central
1 × 1 arcsec for each knot, revealing clusters A1-2
and B1-2. Our study, based upon VLT/FORS1
A recent ultraviolet HST/STIS survey imaging and spectroscopy resolves previously in-
of local starburst galaxies also revealed consistent massive stellar populations for cluster
strong He ii λ 1640 emission in a few A1 from UV (HST/STIS) versus optical diagnostics.


Figure 3: Comparison of a 10 × 10 arcsec
(200 × 200 pc) region of NGC 1313 centred upon a
WO star imaged by FORS1 (He ii λ 4686 filter, top)
and HST/ACS (F435W/WFC, bottom). The WO has a
F435W magnitude of 23.4 mag, suggesting M F435W
~ – 5.2 mag for a distance modulus of 28.0 mag
(4.1 Mpc) and A F435W ~ 0.6 mag.

non-GRB Type Ic SN. As such, GRBs

would trace the low-metallicity star-­
formation history of the Universe. The low
metallicity bias favours the single star
scenario, with respect to alternative close
binary models.

WR clusters as templates for Lyman

break galaxies

Individual WR stars may, in general, be B2

resolved in Local Group galaxies from
ground-based observations, whilst the
likelihood of contamination by nearby B1
sources increases at larger distances. For
example, a typical slit width of 1? at the
2 Mpc distance of NGC 300 corresponds

56 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

3125-A is an analogue for Lyman-break 7 Figure 5: De-reddened, continuum
subtracted VLT/FORS1 spectroscopy
galaxies, one must be able to reconcile NGC 3125-A1
6 of NGC 3125-A1 (black, Hadfield and
optical and UV diagnostics for this star- N(WN) = 105

Flux (10 –15 erg s –1 cm – 2 Å –1)

Crowther 2006), together with scaled
burst galaxy. 5
N(WC) = 20 LMC-metallicity templates for WN
(green) and WC (red) stars, plus their
sum (blue).
Hadfield and Crowther (2006) re-inves­ 4
tigated the massive stellar content of
NGC 3125 from FORS1 imaging and 3
spectroscopy, supplemented by archival
HST imaging and spectroscopy. FORS1
narrowband imaging confirms that the 1
NGC 3125-A and -B knots represent the
primary sites of WR stars. HST imaging 0
resolves each knot into two young mas- 4 550 4 600 4 650 4 700 4 750 4 800
Wavelength (Å)
sive clusters, as shown in Figure 4. Our
FORS1 imaging reveals that both clusters
within knot A host WR stars (A1 and A2), 1.4
for which the visually fainter cluster A2 is NGC 3125-A1
heavily reddened. From ground-based N(WC) = 20
Flux (10 –16 erg s –1 cm – 2 Å –1)

imaging is not clear whether B1 or B2 (or 1.0

both) host WR stars, since their separa-
tion is ~ 0.2 arcsec (10 pc). 0.8

LMC template WN and WC spectra 0.6

from Crowther and Hadfield (2006) were
matched to the FORS1 visual WR fea-
tures in A1 and B1+B2, permitting their 0.2
relative contributions to be determined.
From Figure 5, we derive N(WN) ~ 105 in 0.0
cluster A1, a factor of ~ 3 lower than 5 700 5 750 5 800 5 850 5 900 5 950
Wavelength (Å)
­previous optical studies, owing to a lower
nebular-derived interstellar reddening.
Using Starburst99 theoretical energy dis-
tributions to estimate O star populations
for each cluster, we find N(WR)/N(O) =
0.1–0.2 for clusters A1-A2 (each 2 ×
10 5 MA), in broad agreement with evolu-
tionary models. fluence on evolutionary synthesis mod- References
els for massive stars, WR stars, enable
Chandar R. et al. 2004, ApJ 604, 153
Archival HST/STIS UV spectroscopy con- Type Ib/c supernova and GRB progeni- Crockett R. M. et al. 2007, MNRAS, in press,
firms the low interstellar extinction to- tors, and local young massive clusters as arXiv:0706.0500
wards A1, assuming an SMC-like redden- templates for high-redshift star-form- Crowther P. A. 2007, ARA&A 45, 177
Crowther P. A. and Hadfield L. J. 2006, A&A 449,
ing law. We obtain N(WN) = 110 from the ing galaxies. In the near future we aim to
slit loss corrected He ii λ 1640 line flux, ­extend our surveys to other galaxies Crowther P. A. et al. 2002, A&A 392, 653
in excellent agreement with optical re- with high SFRs in the southern hemi- Crowther P. A. et al. 2007, A&A 469, L31
sults. Our HST/STIS result is however a sphere with the VLT and in the northern Eldridge J. and Vink J. 2006, A&A 452, 295
Hadfield L. J. and Crowther P. A. 2006, MNRAS 368,
factor of 35(!) times lower than that in- hemisphere with other facilities. Indeed,
ferred from the same data set by Chandar WFPC2 (until SM4) and WF3 (after SM4) Hadfield L. J. and Crowther P. A. 2007, MNRAS,
et al. (2004). The discrepancy is primari- aboard HST possess a narrow He ii filter. in press, arXiv:0708.2039
ly due to an anomalously high far-UV-de- These may be used with broadband con- Hadfield L. J. et al. 2005, A&A 439, 265
Hammer F. et al. 2006, A&A 454, 103
rived extinction from their use of the ge- tinuum filters to identifty WR candiates at
Hjorth J. et al. 2003, Nature 423, 847
neric starburst law. Consequently, far-UV- high spatial resolution. Kennicutt R. C. 1998, ARA&A 36, 189
based results for other nearby starburst MacFadyen A. and Woosley S. 1999, ApJ 524, 262
knots should be treated with caution. Mokiem M. R. et al. 2007, A&A, in press,
Acknowledgements arXiv:0708.2042
Schild H. et al. 2003, A&A 397, 859
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of nearby galaxies permit studies of surveys beyond the Local Group, ESO for including Smartt S. et al. 2004, Sci 303, 499
young massive stellar populations across He ii filters within the standard filter set of FORS, and Testor G. and Schild H. 1993, The Messenger 72, 31
the support of the OPC sub-panels since Period 65. Vazquez G. A. et al. 2007, ApJ 663, 995
a range of ambient metallicities, with in-

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 57

Astronomical Science

Surface Ice Spectroscopy of Pluto, Charon and Triton

Silvia Protopapa 1 acterise the ice content of the surfaces the signal of Pluto and Triton in M-band
Tom Herbst 2 and to search for similarities and differ- and of Charon in L-band in three nights.
Hermann Böhnhardt 1 ences.

Observing procedure
 ax-Planck Institute for Solar System
M Pluto, Charon and Triton with NACO at
Research, Lindau, Germany the VLT The Pluto-Charon binary and Triton
Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, were used in the visible as the reference
Heidelberg, Germany Scientific aim sources for the adaptive optics correc-
tions. For Pluto-Charon the NACO slit
The observations of the Pluto-Charon (width 172 mas) was set along the orbi-
We present new reflectance spectra of ­binary and of Triton were obtained with tal position angle of the binary, to acquire
Pluto and Triton taken with the ESO the adaptive optics instrument NACO them both simultaneously. For Triton the
adaptive optics instrument NACO at the at the ESO VLT during 3–7 August 2005. slit was placed at the parallactic angle.
VLT and covering the wavelength range For Pluto-Charon the aim was to resolve The acquisition of the targets was per-
1–5 µm. Apart from known and ex- the binary system and to measure spec- formed in K-band and a suitable offset
pected absorption bands from methane tra of the two objects, for the first time correction, depending on the zenith dis-
ice, our data reveal new absorption ­individually. So far, such type of spectra tance, was applied to achieve the opti-
bands centred around 4.0 µm and could only be obtained from disentan- mum slit position of the objects in L- and
4.6 µm never detected before. The latter gling unresolved and occultation (Charon M-band (though sacrificing slightly the
absorption could be related to the pres- occulted by Pluto) measurements of the JHK signal – at least for higher airmasses
ence of CO ice at the body surfaces. system. Moreover, and even more impor- – by slit losses due to wavelength-de-
Charon’s spectrum is also measured in tant, we intended to extend the wave- pendent atmospheric refraction). The
the wavelength range 1–4 µm, for the length coverage of the surface spectros- usual A-B-B-A nodding (with some jitter)
first time simultaneously with, but iso- copy beyond K-band, i.e. we were aim­- was applied for the observations. In order
lated from, that of Pluto. The non-detec- ing for Pluto spectra up to 5 µm and for to remove at once the telluric and solar
tion of Pluto’s moonlets (unknown at the Charon at least up to 4 µm, with the goal features from Pluto/Charon and Triton’s
time of observation) in acquisition im- to detect further surface ice absorption spectra, observations of the nearby solar
ages of Pluto-Charon provides a lower bands predicted from models of the avail- analogue star HD 162341, recorded ap-
limit of 18.8 mag for the K-band bright- able JHK spectra and to search for sig- proximately once per 1.5 hour, were per-
ness of Hydra and Nix. natures of yet unknown ices. Triton, vis­ formed. In this way every Pluto-Charon
ible from the VLT at the same time, was a and Triton observation had an associated
welcome object for comparison, since its ‘before’ and ‘after’ set of calibration star
Dwarf planets and New Horizons JHK spectrum is similar to that of Pluto observations, made with similar sky con-
(but different from Charon), and at least ditions and identical instrument and AO
Things are changing in the outer Solar as well known as the former. Like Pluto, settings.
System: Pluto got ‘degraded’ by the the 3–5 µm region of Triton is still unex-
IAU from a ‘real’ planet to a dwarf one. plored for this object, considered to be a
Shortly before this terrestrial decision, Kuiper Belt object captured by Neptune. Data reduction
NASA launched the New Horizons space-
craft to approach Pluto and Charon in Besides the usual data reduction for IR
2015 – and possibly one or two, yet un- Telescope and instrument set-up spectroscopy, special attention was paid
detected, Kuiper Belt objects thereafter. to the wavelength calibration and the
Also, recently, two new small moons, NACO at the VLT Unit Telescope 4 spectrum curvature correction of the
Nix and Hydra, were discovered around (Yepun) was our first choice for this pro- NACO data. The former applies because
Pluto. Despite all these changes, Pluto gramme since it combines the high spa- no arc lamp spectra for L- and M-band
and Charon, remain of high scientific tial resolution of adaptive optics, needed are available in NACO; hence, atmos-
­interest, in particular since they can be to resolve Pluto-Charon (variable along pheric emission and absorption features
con­sidered – together with Neptune’s the orbit from 0.5–0.9?), and at the same were used as wavelength reference in-
moon Triton – as the best prototypes for time benefits from considerable signal- stead. The latter results from differential
the ice worlds in the outer Solar Sys- to-noise improvements for the spectros- atmospheric refraction over the large
tem and the Kuiper Belt. Best, because copy. Moreover, NACO allowed to cover wavelength range and was corrected by
these three objects are bright and thus the full wavelength range from 1–5 µm pixel shifts of the spectra applying the
accessible for Earth-based observations at once with the intended spectral resolu- ­atmospheric refraction formula. Thereaf-
not easily possible for other bodies of tion using the prism L27_P1. Neverthe- ter, we used optimum extraction to im-
that kind. Here, we present new IR ob- less, the NACO exposure time calculator prove signal-to-noise ratio over aperture
servations of Pluto, Charon and Triton indicated that, even with the great advan- extraction. In order to recover from the
performed with the VLT in order to char- tages of adaptive optics and low-disper- unavoidable slit losses in the short wave-
sion prism, it would be difficult to measure length region, we combined the extracted

58 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

L- and M-band spectra, combined over 1.0 Figure 1: Pluto’s spectrum in the range
of wavelengths 1–5 µm. The species
all nights, with selected object spectra in
responsible for the absorption bands
the JHK wavelength region and taken 0.8 CH 4 detected in our spectrum are marked
at low airmasses. The extracted spectra in the figure. No object flux is meas-
were normalised to published values for ured in the atmospheric absorption

Geometric Albedo
bands at 2.5–2.8 and 4.1–4.4 µm.
the albedo at fixed wavelengths and 0.6

thereafter median averaged. This way we ?

were able to reconstruct global spectra of
0.4 CH 4
the three targets – flux permitting – over CH 4 2ν4
the full wavelength range from 1–5 µm.
CH 4
0.2 ν3

Pluto and Triton spectra from 1 to 5 µm

1 2 3 4 5
In Figures 1 and 2 we present the reflect- Wavelength (microns)

ance spectra of Pluto and Triton, ob-

tained with NACO in the 1–5 µm wave- 1.0 Figure 2: Triton’s spectrum in the
range of wavelengths 1–5 µm. The
length range at a S/N in J-K and L-band CH 4
species responsible for the absorption
equal to 50 and 11, respectively. For 0.8 ? bands detected in our spectrum are
Pluto, it is the first time that the L-band is marked in the figure. No object flux is
measured without contamination by light measured in the atmospheric absorp-
Geometric Albedo

tion bands at 2.6–2.8 and 4.1–4.4 µm.

from Charon, and for both objects 0.6

M-band spectra were never measured CH 4 ?

CH 4 2ν4
before. ν2+ν4

CH 4
Known compounds 0.2

The published spectra of the two objects

have established that there is solid CH 4 0.0
1 2 3 4 5
on Pluto and Triton’s surface (Douté et Wavelength (microns)

al. 1999; Quirico et al. 1999; Grundy et al.

2002), easily noticed from various absorp­
tion features in the JHKL bands. This is ­ luto’s spectrum from 2.8 to 3.1 µm, con-
P t­holin (Olkin et al. 2007), it is not possible
confirmed – in particular also for L-band – sidered to be a ­diagnostic for the ratio to reproduce the absorption band ­centred
by our new NACO results. Indeed, in the of areas with pure CH4 ice and CH4 ice around 4.0 µm in our NACO data and
range of wavelength 1.0–2.5 µm, the most ­diluted in N2 (Olkin et al. 2007), is differ- ­indicated in Figure 1 by a question mark.
prominent features evident in Pluto and ent from the one of Triton. Since the This absorption band is also present
Triton’s spec­tra are strong CH 4 absorp- spectrum of pure methane has a steeper in Triton’s spectrum (Figure 2). Another
tion bands near 1.16, 1.38, 1.66, 1.79, slope in this region, this finding suggests question mark can be found in the figures
2.20, 2.31 and 2.37 µm (Figures 1 and 2). that the percentage of diluted methane is at an absorption band centred around
Because of the low spectral resolution higher in Triton than in Pluto. Another dif- 4.6 µm, visible in both Pluto and Triton’s
of the NACO prism, it is not possible to ference between Pluto and Triton’s spec- spectra. This signature was found unex-
detect in both object spectra the absorp- tra is the albedo around the ν3 band of pectedly. A first interpretation ­assigns it to
tion bands of N2 at 2.148 µm and CO CH4 from 3.1 to 3.6 µm. As observed by CO ice. In fact, CO ice has a strong ab-
at 2.35 µm already found by Owen et al. Olkin et al. (2007), this constrains the sorption band at 4.67 µm ­(Palumbo and
(1993) and Cruikshank et al. (1993) for fraction of pure N2 on the surface. Hence, Strazzulla 1993).
Pluto and Triton, respectively. The low concluding from our NACO spectra, the
resolution in JHK bands also does not presence of pure N2 is greater in Triton
allow us to detect CO2 in Triton’s spec- than in Pluto. Charon’s spectrum from 1 to 4 µm
Our NACO spectrum of Charon in the
In the range of wavelengths 2.8–4.1 µm, Unknown features wavelength range between 1 and 4 µm is
our spectra of Pluto and Triton show shown in Figure 3. Charon’s spectrum
strong absorptions near 3.3, 3.5 and By modelling Pluto’s surface spectrum by has previously been studied in some de-
3.8 µm, corresponding to methane’s ν3, geographical mixtures of pure methane, tail in the JHK wavelength region (Buie
ν2 + ν4 and 2 ν4 vibrational transitions methane diluted in nitrogen and pure and Grundy 2000), but was never meas-
(Grundy et al. 2002; Olkin et al. 2007). It ­nitrogen (Douté et al. 1999), or pure meth- ured above 2.5 µm.
is important to note that the slope of ane, methane diluted in nitrogen and

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 59

Astronomical Science Protopapa S. et al., Surface Ice Spectroscopy of Pluto, Charon and Triton

As expected, our Charon spectrum is 0.5 Figure 3: Charon’s spectrum in the

range of wavelengths 1–4 µm. The
dominated by the 1.5 and 2.0 µm absorp-
species responsible for the absorption
tion bands of water ice. The spectrum 0.4 bands detected in our NACO spec-
shows the 1.65 µm spectral feature char- trum are marked in the figure. No ob-
acteristic of crystalline water ice, for the H 20 ject flux is measured in the atmos-
Geometric Albedo
pheric band between 2.5 and 2.8 µm.
first time identified by Brown and Calvin 0.3
H 20 ?
(2000). Because of the low prism resolu-
tion, it is not possible to detect the ab- H 20
sorption band at 2.21 µm related to the
presence of ammonia hydrate NH3H2O,
that should exist uniformly distributed on 0.1
Charon’s surface.

A narrow absorption band is found 0.0

1 2 3 4
around 3.7 µm, indicated by a question Wavelength (microns)

mark in Figure 3. It cannot be repro-

duced by models of Charon’s spectrum
with pure H2O ice darkened by a spec-
trally neutral continuum absorber (Olkin
et al. 2007). Hence, it remains unidenti-
fied for the time being.

A brief search for Pluto’s moonlets

At the time of our NACO observations,

Pluto’s satellites, Hydra and Nix, had
yet to be discovered (Weaver et al. 2006).
Although the direct images of the Pluto-
Charon system, taken with NACO for the
slit acquisition of the binary, were never
meant to be searched for the very faint
new moonlets, we made an attempt to
detect them in our few short (3 sec) ex-
posures (see Figure 4). Unfortunately, we Hydra
didn’t find Pluto’s new moons in our
frames. Given the limiting magnitude of Nix
about 18.8 mag determined for our ac­
quisition images, this detection is not sur-
prising since both objects should have
K-band magnitudes well beyond 21 mag.
Longer integrations would have certainly
displayed the moons in the NACO im-
ages, but would have resulted in a reduc-
tion of exposure time for our prime –
and only – programme at that time, the
spectral analysis of the surface ices on
Pluto, Charon, and Triton.
References Figure 4: Median average of the slit acquisition
­images of Pluto and Charon in the night 4 August
Brown M. E. and Calvin W. M. 2000, Science 287, 2005. The expected positions of the moons Hydra
107 and Nix are indicated by crosses.
Buie M. W. and Grundy W. M. 2000, Icarus 148, 324
Cruikshank D. P. et al. 1993, Science 261, 742
Douté S. et al. 1999, Icarus 142, 421
Grundy W. M., Buie M. W. and Spencer J. R. 2002,
AJ 124, 2273
Olkin C. B. et al. 2007, AJ 133, 420
Owen T. C. et al. 1993, Science 261, 745
Palumbo M. E. and Strazzulla G. 1993, A&A 269, 568
Quirico E. et al. 1999, Icarus 139, 159
Weaver H. A. et al. 2006, Nature 439, 943

60 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical News
Photo: F. Mac Auliffe, ESO

Arrival of the first

Japanese ALMA an-
tenna at the Opera-
tions Support Facility
(OSF) in July 2007.
Astronomical News

BACHES – A Compact Light-Weight Echelle Spectrograph

for Amateur Astronomy

Gerardo Avila 1 of Balmer emission lines in Be stars and graved in a reflective nickel plate is used
Vadim Burwitz 2 even detection of exoplanets (Kaye 2006). to check the position of the star in front of
Carlos Guirao 1 the slit. A Phillips ToUcam webcam moni-
Jesus Rodriguez 1 Following this evolution, we therefore de- tors the image of the star on the slit plate.
Raquel Shida 1, 3 signed an echelle spectrograph light A doublet collimates the telescope beam
Dietrich Baade 1 enough to be attached directly to small to a 79 l/mm, 63˚ echelle grating. Then
telescopes. The weight should not ex- the diffracted beam reaches a diffraction
ceed 2 kg (without the CCD camera) and grating acting as cross-disperser. Finally
ESO the size should be reasonably commen- an objective is used to project the spec-
 ax-Planck-Institut für Extraterres-
M surate with that of typical amateur tele- trum on the CCD. The camera is an SBIG
trische Physik, Garching, Germany scopes. Thanks to the availability of low- ST-1603ME with an array of 1530 × 1020
ST-ECF cost echelle gratings and light-weight pixels of 9 µm. The spectrum is com-
(but still relatively bulky) CCD cameras, posed of 29 complete orders covering a
we could achieve these objectives. The range between 390 and 750 nm. The in-
BACHES is a low-cost, light-weight development of the instrument was a strument has been designed to match
echelle spectrograph suitable for obser- ­collaboration between a group from ESO F/10 apertures and the slit width projects
vations of bright stars coupled with and the mechanical workshop for ap- on to 2.4 pixels. Figure 2 shows the spec-
small telescopes up to 35 cm (14?) in di- prentices of the Max-Planck-Institut für trum of a thorium lamp. The measured
ameter. The resolving power reaches extraterrestrische Physik in Garching. ­resolving power (l/Δl) is between 18 000
19 000 in a continuous spectral range and 19 000 over the entire spectral range.
between 390 and 750 nm. The through- The first light of BACHES took place in
put of the instrument including the September 2006 with observations of The data reduction is carried out with an
­telescope and detector is 11 % peak at bright stars like Albireo and Deneb with adapted version of the ECHELLE pack-
500 nm. With this efficiency spectra ­ a 35-cm Celestron telescope. In March age in MIDAS. The process performs the
of stars of visual magnitude 5 can be 2007 we initiated observations of Be following steps: bias level and dark cur-
obtained in 15 min exposure with a S/N stars (primarily z Tau). rent subtraction; removal of hot pixels;
of 50. One of the goals of the instru- wavelength calibration with a thorium-ar-
ment is to monitor the spectral variabil- gon lamp; extraction of the 1D spectrum;
ity of Balmer emission lines in Be stars. The instrument rebinning to wavelength units. MIDAS
scripts are used to automate the identifi-
BACHES (‘pothole’ in Spanish) stands cation of the thorium-argon lines for
The availability of key components such for BAsic eCHElle ­Spectrograph. Figure 1
as diffraction gratings and high-sensitivity shows the instrument attached to a Figure 1: BACHES attached to a Celestron CGE 11?
CCD cameras at affordable prices now 25-cm telescope. A 25 × 100 µm slit en- telescope with a Losmandy Equatorial G-11 mount.
allows the construction of inexpensive but
fairly high-performance spectrographs.

Photo: C. Guirao, ESO

A large number of amateur astronomers
routinely take spectra of planets, stars,
comets and bright extended objects.
Thus some years ago we started build­-
ing low-resolution spectrographs for
small telescopes. These models were
rather heavy and cumbersome and there-
fore had to use optical fibres to link to
the telescope. FIASCO (FIbre Amateur
Spectrograph Casually Organised) was
our first prototype. Using a 200 µm fibre
linked to a 25-cm telescope, a Peltier-
cooled CCD camera and a 600 l/mm
grating, we obtained spectra with a re-
solving power of 600. However, even with
this spectrograph we were able to detect
the sodium lines in comets Hyakutake
and Hale-Bopp in 1996 and 1997 respec-
tively (Avila 1999). Nowadays, the amateur
spectroscopy community is moving to-
wards higher resolving power in order to
include more ambitious scientific goals,
such as surveys of the spectral variability

62 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

and dynamics of the disc, etc., provided
the S/N and spectral resolution are
­sufficient. The nominal performance of
BACHES should fully satisfy these re-
quirements. Moreover, there are enough
bright Be stars so that at almost any time
and location one or more of them are
within reach of BACHES. Therefore, the
good match between BACHES and Be
stars is bidirectional.

In order to verify the suitability of

BACHES for such studies, we initiated
a series of observations of z Tau
(HD 37202) with our telescopes. Figure 3
shows the variability of the Ha and Hb
emission lines between 12 March and 25
April 2007. The first spectrum was taken
in Garching with our AGAPE telescope, a
35-cm Celestron. At the time of these ob-
servations z Tau was quite low in the
West at an Hour Angle of about 4 hr and
Figure 2: Spectrum of a thorium-argon calibration the air mass correspondingly high. The
lamp with a 5 s exposure. 1500 lines are detected
spectrum shown is the average of three
and 80 % are typically identified (calibrated) with the
MIDAS/ECHELLE calibration procedure. exposures of five minutes each. The sec-
ond observation took place on 31 March
wavelength calibration and for executing chanical stability. In the worst conditions 2007 in Paranal. Finally, the last two
a kind of pipeline. The data reduction (telescope very low and rotation of the spectra were made in Garching with the
package and a demonstration can be spectrograph through 180 degrees) we AGAPE 35-cm telescope. This time we
found at observed a shift of the spectrum on the increased the number of exposures to
spectrograph/baches.html. Since MIDAS CCD by up to 3 pixels (27 µm). However, five (300 s each). As revealed by the ex-
can run under Windows through the the main sources of instability have been tracted spectra, the signal-to-noise ratio
Linux emulator Cygwin/CygwinX, a single identified and will be improved in the next is not considerably improved, but 3 ×
computer can be used for both acquisi- model. 300 s exposures is enough for an accu-
tion and reduction of the spectra. rate analysis of the hydrogen Balmer
The measured peak throughput of A first step towards scientific application:
BACHES is 27 % at 504 nm. The quan- Variability of Ha and Hb emission lines in The spectral variability that can be seen
tum efficiency (QE) of the CCD at this the Be star z Tauri in Figure 3 is rather complex. It is differ-
wavelength is 52 % according to the data ent from the variability seen in most other
sheet. Assuming a throughput of 81 % About 10 % of all B-type stars exhibit Be stars in that the Ha emission has a
for the telescope (corrector plate and 2 Al Balmer (and other) emission lines, which ­triple-peaked profile. z Tau is a single-
mirrors), the total throughput from the arise from a disc-like circumstellar en­ lined spectroscopic binary with an orbi­-
­atmosphere to the detector is 11 %. For velope, composed of material lost by the tal period of 132.97 days, and it is thought
comparison the peak efficiency for the central B star. How such discs are that the rich structure of the emission
red arm of UVES under the same condi- formed is at most partly understood. But profiles is due to this circumstance. One
tions is around 17 %. But for an instru- all Be stars are rotating at 90 % or more of the objectives of monitoring z Tau in
ment thousands of times cheaper than of their break-up velocity, which must be the forthcoming observing season is to
UVES, the efficiency is not bad, especially an important factor. The interplay be- search for a relation between the spectral
since most of the difference is due to the tween ejection mechanisms and dissipa- variability and the orbital phase.
difference in both the QE of the CCDs tive processes in the disc (involving also
used and the echelle grating. On the sky, stellar radiation pressure) often leads to These few reconnaissance spectra are
with our equipment, we can observe the cyclic build-up and dispersal of the already sufficient to demonstrate con-
stars down to m v = 5 with an exposure disc, which manifests itself in the appear- vincingly that, with bright enough targets
time of 900 s and a measured signal-to- ance and disappearance of the Balmer and/or large enough (but still small) tele-
noise ratio of around 50 per pixel. emission. The spectroscopic monitoring scopes, BACHES can satisfy the needs
of this variability can reveal important de- even of relatively demanding scientific re-
The main problem encountered with this tails about the ejection geometry, the search projects.
prototype was the relatively poor me- ­circularisation of the ejecta, the geometry

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 63

Astronomical News

In summary, BACHES is a light-weight, Figure 3: Evolution of

BACHES 1 (R: 20 000) Ha and Hb lines in z Tau
low-cost, medium-resolution echelle ζ Tau Hα
over 44 days.
spectrograph suitable for science-driven 6 000

observations of bright stars and espe-

cially for the monitoring of time-depend-
ent phenomena. A spectral resolving Relative Intensity

power of 18 000 is fully adequate for 4 000

25 April 2007
many scientific purposes. Its simplicity
and low manufacturing cost make
BACHES affordable for student training 20 April 2007

courses at universities and for advanced 2 000

amateur observatories alike. We will 31 March 2007

­continue to quantitatively characterise the
properties of BACHES, e.g. the stability
of the wavelength calibration, the homo- 0
12 March 2007

6 520 6 540 6 560 6 580 6 600 6 620

geneity and stability of the point-spread Wavelength (Å)
function, the correctability of spectra for
the echelle ripple function, etc. 1500

BACHES 1 (R: 20 000)

ζ Tau Hβ
25 April 2007


We want to thank Marc Sarazin for use of the 28-cm

Celestron telescope at Paranal. We also thank ESO 1000 20 April 2007
Relative Intensity

PAD who kindly purchased the optics for the spec-


31 March 2007

Avila G. et al. 1999, Proc. IAU Coll. 173, 235 500

Kaye T. et al. 2006, J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 116, 2
12 March 2007
Pollmann E. 2007, IAU Inf. Bull. Var. Stars, 5778
For a list of spectroscopy amateur web sites see
for example:
players.htm 4 850 4 855 4 860 4 865 4 870 4 875
Wavelength (Å)

Report on the ESO Workshop on

Obscured AGN across Cosmic Time

held at Kloster Seeon, Bavaria, Germany, 5–8 June 2007

Robert A. E. Fosbury 1 While the radio-loud, obscured quasars galaxy. The workshop reported here
Carlos De Breuck 2 (the radio galaxies) have been known was designed to explore the results of
Vincenzo Mainieri 2 and studied for decades, new and sen- these rapid observational developments
Gordon Robertson 2, 3 sitive X-ray and mid-infrared surveys and the nature of the relationships be-
Joël Vernet 2 are now beginning to reveal large num- tween the stellar and AGN components.
bers of their radio-quiet counterparts
beyond the local Universe. Consequent-
ST-ECF, ESO ly, we are approaching the compilation Introduction
ESO of a relatively complete census of AGN
University of Sydney, Australia of all types covering a large fraction of Research areas in astronomy occasion-
cosmic time. This is revealing a remark- ally experience a period of rapid growth
ably intimate connection between the due either to the development of some
supermassive black hole and its host new observational capability or to the si-

64 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

multaneous ripening of several related Restframe Wavelength (µm)
threads of understanding. In the case of 10 –4 10 –3 0.01 0.1 1 10 100 1000 10 4 10 5 10 6
the relationship between supermassive
black holes (SMBH) and the growth of
their host galaxies, we are in the midst of 1000
such a revolution triggered by the combi-
nation of both of these effects. While the
close connection between the black-hole νfν (10–15 erg s–1 cm–2 )
mass and the mass (velocity dispersion) 100
of a galaxy bulge – the ‘M-s’ relation –
has been known since the late 90’s, the
mapping out of a comprehensive picture
of black-hole demographics had to await
the deep surveys that were capable of
detecting both the obscured and the un-
obscured flavours of active galaxies: the
type 2 and type 1 Active Galactic Nuclei
(AGN) respectively. The combination of 1
sensitive X-ray and mid-infrared (MIR) ob-
servatories in space is now providing just
this service by penetrating and/or reveal-
ing the obscuration that in type 2 sources 10 –4 10 –3 0.01 0.1 1 10 100 1000 10 4 10 5 10 6 10 7
hides the nuclear regions in the UV to the Observed Wavelength (µm)
near-IR spectrum (see Figure 1 for an ex-
ample of the X-ray-to-radio SED of a radio Figure 1: X-ray-to-radio spectral energy distribution dust emission (blue). Radiation escaping through
(SED) of the z = 2.483 radio galaxy 4C+23.56 (De the torus opening is scattered toward the observer
galaxy). The results are exciting.
Breuck et al. in preparation). All data points are ob- providing a unique periscopic view of the nucleus
served flux densities, except for the J, H and K-band ­(magenta). It also ionises the ISM producing nebular
The completion of such a census has sub­ fluxes, which have been corrected for strong emis- continuum emission (orange) and, of course, line
stantial cosmological significance since sion lines. Coloured lines show the decomposition of emission (which is not shown). The massive stellar
the SED into different intimately-related components. host galaxy is seen directly in the rest-frame near-IR
it is providing the foundation for iden­
The accretion onto the supermassive black hole cre- (green), while an obscured starburst is revealed by
tifying the role of AGN feedback in the ates very energetic X-ray and UV emission and pow- sub-mm cool dust re-emission (red). The radio syn-
­galaxy formation process. The type 2 erful synchrotron radio jets and lobes. In this typical chrotron fit is in cyan. The bolometric contributions
sources are of particular value here since, radio-loud, type 2 AGN, the direct view to the nu- from the accretion onto the supermassive black hole
cleus is blocked by an obscuring torus absorbing the and the stellar nucleosynthesis are remarkably simi-
by acting as their own coronographs,
soft X-ray radiation that is re-emitted as hot thermal lar.
they facilitate the study of the star-forma-
tion activity and the investigation of the
correlated growth of the black hole and understanding that we are witnessing. veys are playing their part as well. The
the host galaxy. The ability to locate and identify the SDSS has revealed very large numbers of
­radio-quiet type 2 objects has depended AGN (see, for example, Figure 4), includ-
While radio galaxies – which are being on the concerted use of both the X-ray ing the few QSOs with the highest known
used to trace the massive galaxy popula- and the MIR emissions that derive their redshifts. The deep, narrower field, multi-
tion at all epochs – have been studied energy from the AGN either directly or wavelength surveys such as HUDF,
­intensively for the past 40 years, their through re-emission. We have known for GOODS, GEMS, COSMOS, etc. are map-
more numerous radio-quiet counterparts a long time that optical and near-infrared ping relatively small areas at unprece-
beyond the local Universe are only now (NIR) radiations emerge from the AGN dented depth and producing samples of
being discovered in substantial numbers. in a highly anisotropic manner. However, fainter AGN. The deepest X-ray surveys
One of the workshop’s aims was to bring the X-rays – especially at higher energies are reaching AGN source densities of
together the established radio galaxy – and the MIR are believed to emerge 7000/deg2, with more than half of these
community with those studying the radio- in a more isotropic manner. This enables being partially obscured in X-rays. These
quiet sources, and so help to elucidate surveys using these wavebands to find surveys are allowing, now more than
the effects of the (possibly) different host a much more complete set of AGN, re- 40 years after its discovery, a huge step
galaxies and environment on the mani- gardless of their orientation in space or forward in the understanding of the origin
festation of the AGN phenomenon. distribution of their obscuring material. of the X-ray background (XRB). They
­confirm the prediction of the population
The sensitivity of the spaceborne instru- synthesis models which explain the XRB
Advances in capability ments is such that active galaxies, at spectrum as the emission, integrated
least the more luminous examples, can over cosmic time, of obscured and unob-
Advances in observational capability have be seen out to the highest redshifts. The scured AGN. Most of the XRB emission
been crucial for the rapid development in wide field, sensitive ground-based sur­- below 10 keV is resolved into unobscured

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 65

Astronomical News Fosbury R. A. E. et al., Obscured AGN across Cosmic Time

and Compton-thin AGN. These sources, from the central BH. There was always are seen. This source size corresponds
however, fall short of matching the XRB a suspicion however – now amply con- to about 10 Schwarzschild radii for a BH
peak intensity at 30 keV, which can in- firmed by observations – that, lurking with a mass ~ 3 × 10 7 MA.
stead be accounted for by a large (as nu- within the class, some objects were being
merous as that of Compton-thin AGN) obscured instead by larger-scale struc- Our conception of the form of the torus
population of heavily obscured, Comp- tures within the host galaxy. Distinguish- has been derived from many artist’s im-
ton-thick objects. ing these pseudo type 2s is being done pressions, but what really shapes it?
using an arsenal of techniques. In con- Even a sub-Eddington AGN can produce
At the very limits of detection, the stack- trast to the torus, the extended obscura- a radiative force that is comparable to
ing of sources detected in one waveband tion usually has a rather small A V (a few, gravity in the material that would com-
in order to characterise the average be- but enough to hide the BLR). It is also prise a torus. The opacity in the MIR can
haviour in another can be remarkably illu- Compton-thin, unlike some (parts) of the be some 10 to 30 times that from Thomp-
minating. For instance, the stacking of tori. A clear indicator of a proper torus, son scattering, making it possible to sup-
faint MIR sources reveals a hard X-ray however, is provided by a MIR signature port a geometrically thick obscuration.
spectrum indicative of large absorbing of hot dust over a range of temperatures In addition to regular doughnuts, clumpy
columns. up to that of dust sublimation. But per- or otherwise, with radial temperature gra-
haps the most striking recent result is the dients and gradients within clumps,
One obvious question which arises from spatial resolution in the MIR – using MIDI the old idea of warped discs is still there
this new survey capability is whether on the VLTI – of structures that can be in the running. We know that such struc-
we discover any qualitatively new type of identified with the warm torus material in tures exist because we see them, albeit
source? The answer seems to be not Circinus (Figure 2) and NGC 1068. As ex- on larger scales, in a number of galaxies.
­really, although there are certainly objects pected, these are oriented perpendicular
turning up with AGN characteristics in to the ionisation cones and outflows. In So what fraction of the type 2s are simp-
some wavebands that appear rather bor- Centaurus A, however, the MIR emission ly type 1s which happen to be pointing
ing in some of the more traditional win- is unresolved and can probably be asso- away from us? Well, the prevailing opinion
dows. ciated with synchrotron emission from the seems to be that about half of them are
footprint of the jet. really of the ‘host-obscured’ variety that
Studies of individual sources benefit from will reveal their AGN to an observer with
the sheer power of the large ground- Another fascinating observation, illus- only a modest degree of determination.
based telescopes, more recently coupled trated with X-ray monitoring observations There are, however, powerful, deeply ob-
to Integral-Field Spectrographs (IFS) of NGC 1365, involves watching a Comp- scured sources – ULIRGs – that can fight
fed with AO. The astonishing detail with ton-thin cloud moving at about 10 4 km/s hard not to reveal their power sources.
which the hosts are now being studied eclipsing the nuclear X-ray source – hav- The debate always used to be: “Are they
was one of the clear highlights of the ing a size of less than ~ 10 14 cm – over AGN or Starburst powered?” Now we are
workshop. Kinematic maps, analyses of a period of about two days. During the more likely to ask about the current bal-
stellar populations and element abun- eclipse, the broad iron emission line dis- ance between these two intimately-re-
dances from the spatially resolved ISM appears while strong iron absorption lines lated processes.
emission lines are all active new fields.
Particularly exciting was the application of
the VLTI to imaging the obscuring torus in λ = 11.0 µm Flux distribution
nearby sources.

Nature of obscuration
Figure 2: Flux distribution of the emis-
The type 2 (obscured) AGN were always 100 sion from warm dust in the nucleus of
recognised as being a heterogeneous the Circinus galaxy. The emission was
DEC in mas

bunch, even after the orientation-depend­ modelled according to interferometric

data obtained with MIDI at the VLTI
ent unification scheme had become firm­- 0 using two elliptical, Gaussian black-
ly established following the detection, in body emitters with silicate absorption.
the ‘true’ type 2s, of the hidden type 1s in The dust is distributed in two compo-
polarised light. Observers in different nents: (1) a small, disc-like component
–100 which is oriented per­p endicularly to
wavebands contributed to the confusion the ionisation cone and outflow and
by using their own set of selection crite- coincides with the orientation and size
ria. It was clear that the ‘true’ type 2s – 200
of a maser disc; (2) a larger torus
were obscured by some coherent struc- which surrounds the disc com­ponent
and which shows strong evidence for
ture that was identified as an equatorial clumpiness. This finding strongly sup-
‘torus’ that would absorb UV/optical/NIR 200 100 0 –100 – 200 ports the unified scheme of AGN.
light over more than half the sky as seen RA in mas (Courtesy Konrad Tristram, MPIA)

66 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

The astrophysics of all this obscured and Figure 3: This collage of low-resolution Spitzer-IRS
spectra offers a striking illustration of the diverse
obscuring material deep within galaxies
­nature of the galaxies classified as ultraluminous in-
has been given a tremendous boost by 10 8
00275 frared galaxies (ULIRGs). The reddish spectra at
the availability of exquisite MIR spectros- 20037 the top are nearly featureless, typical of AGN-heated
copy, first with ISO and now with Spitzer 08559 hot dust. Further down, the family of PAH emission
features at 6.2, 7.7, 8.6 and 11.3 microns start to ap-
(Figure 3). There are many diagnostics
pear, indicating an increased contribution of star-
in this spectral region, from the permitted 18030
06009 forming regions to the ULIRG spectrum. The PAH
and forbidden ionic lines, familiar from
10 6
emission starts to dominate in the greenish spectra,
their shorter wavelength counterparts, 20087 while silicate absorption at both 10 and 18 microns
becomes apparent. In the spectrum of IRAS 20087,
Flux Density F λ (W/cm 2 /µm)

gas-phase molecules like CO, C2H2, HCN, Mrk 273

the characteristic absorption edge of water ice at
etc., water ice, hydrocarbons (both aro- 5.7 microns starts to appear as well, indicating the
matic and aliphatic) and silicates in dense 10 4 20100 presence of shielded cold molecular clouds along
molecular clouds. Whole new families of the line of sight. The water ice feature deepens and
the importance of PAH emission decreases mov-
‘diagnostic-diagrams’ can be constructed
ing down to the spectra shown in glacial blue. At the
in this playground. One example, with sili- same time, the depth of the 10 and 18 micron sili-
cate absorption/emission strength plotted 00183
cate features increases and hydrocarbon absorption
against the PAH equivalent width, nice- 10 2
bands at 6.85 and 7.25 microns become ap­parent,
indicating that the power sources of these ULIRGs
ly separates different types of AGN and 00397
are deeply embedded. The bottom three spectra dif-
star-bursting regions. 08572 fer from those directly above by the presence of a
strong near-infrared continuum and by the relative
Examinations of orientation-based unifi- 10 0
weakness of the 5.5 to 8.0 micron absorption fea-
tures. Note how, due to the appreciable redshifts of
cation, e.g. the ‘Jackson-Browne’ test
IRAS 00183 and IRAS 00397, the IRS spectral cover-
which compares the isotropic emissions 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 15 20 25 30 age extends all the way down to rest frame wave-
from types 1 and 2 sources in matched Rest Wavelength (µm)
length of 4 microns, facilitating the discovery of wide
samples, have been given fresh impetus absorption features due to warm CO gas at 4.6 mi-
crons in their spectra. (Spoon et al. 2006; Spoon et
by the availability of new candidate iso-
al. 2007).
tropic AGN emissions in the MIR. By
using forbidden line ratios, such as [Ne v]/ at redshifts beyond the reach of other from nucleosynthesis and from collapse
[Ne ii] and [Ne v] to low-frequency radio cluster-finding methods. Multi-band pho- onto black holes through the history of
power for a matched sample of FR II radio tometry can then enable searches for the Universe. The actual ratio of these
galaxies and quasars, the test is passed overdensities of sources showing the two contributors as a function of cosmic
with flying colours. This confirms that characteristics, e.g. SED shapes and/or time is something that will be derived
these types 1 and 2 objects are indeed Ly-a emission, expected for ‘cluster’ as a result of the complete AGN census
from the same parent population and mem­bers. which we have been describing, but
also, incidentally, that the [O iii] 5007 Å line we have known for quite a while that the
that was used in the original test is par- Very extended Ly-a halos (~ >  100 kpc) in- numbers are roughly comparable. Why
tially obscured in the type 2 objects – as deed appear to be ubiquitous attendants should that be so? The physics of energy
has been suspected for a long time. of such objects and they provide infor­ generation in these two cases is, after all,
mation about sources of ionising radi­ation quite different.
and about large-scale gas flows in galax-
Environments ies early in their evolutionary histories. The answer must be that the processes
In addition to those seen around the radio know about one another and are able
One of the historical values of AGN has galaxies, Ly-a emission is now being de- to communicate by some kind of feed-
been their utility as ‘markers’ of distant tected around some of the radio-quiet back mechanism. Now, while ‘feedback’
galaxies and (proto-)clusters. Due to their sources, especially those seen at sub-mm may be a euphemism for all the physics
high visibility, the powerful radio galaxies wavelengths. that we do not understand, we can at
have long served such a purpose. It is least see the results of its operation. AGN
­hypothesised, on the basis of their posi- seem to be able to switch off cooling
tion in the observed K-band Hubble dia- Feedback flows in clusters and stop star formation
gram, that these sources indicate the in galaxies with the result that the BH
presence of massive hosts. The availabil- The natural theme of the workshop – and mass is tied to that of the host bulge (or
ity of sensitive MIR measurements from indeed the reason for the resurgence of vice versa). Indeed, it is remarkable that
Spitzer has now made it possible to con- interest in AGN in general – is the rapidly the cosmic evolution of the star-formation-
firm this hypothesis using measurements growing evidence for the intimate rela- rate density is so closely mirrored by
of the restframe H-band luminosity which tionship between the SMBH and the host that of the BH accretion-rate density. This
is relatively insensitive to AGN contami­ galaxy, first evinced from the ‘M-s’ rela- conclusion has been strengthened re-
nation and can be easily corrected for its tionship. That such a relationship exists cently by several observations. One is the
small residuals. These sources are also was perhaps hinted at by the simi­larity of use of a simple, but apparently effective,
serving as signposts to protoclusters the bolometric luminosities originating proxy for BH bolometric luminosity, name­

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 67

Astronomical News Fosbury R. A. E. et al., Obscured AGN across Cosmic Time

l­y the ‘relatively-raw’ [O iii] 5007 Å lumi- 1.5

nosity AGN from the Sloan survey (see
Figure 4 for an example of a line-ratio di- Seyfert Galaxies
agnostic (BPT) diagram from Sloan data).
Another comes from deep X-ray surveys 1.0
showing that the space density of the
less luminous AGN peaks at lower red-
shifts than that of high X-ray luminosity 0.5
QSOs. This behaviour is driven by a de-
log ([O III]/Hβ)

crease in the characteristic mass scale of

actively accreting black holes as shown
by the SDSS data. 0.0
So the ‘downsizing’ seen in the growth of
galaxies is seen also in the accretion
– 0.5 Galaxies
rate onto black holes. There are two parts
to this problem: one is the question of
­accretion rate and the associated growth
of the BH; the other is the effect of the –1.0
AGN on the host galaxy and its environ-
– 2.0 –1.5 –1.0 – 0.5 0.0 0.5
But how does the feedback actually log ([N II]/Hα)
work? Understanding this is a demand-
ing problem for both observers and Figure 4: This figure reveals the spread of emission- SDSS galaxies not only enable us to see the possi-
line galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey ble extent of emission line galaxies but also to distin-
­theorists. The feedback can be either
(SDSS) on the line ratio diagnostic diagram of Bald- guish the dominant ionisation mechanism for this
negative – by the driving of outflows – or win, Phillips and Terlevich (1981). This diagram uses observed spread (Kewley et al. 2006). The curves in-
positive – from jet- or supernova-driven four strong optical emission lines, [O iii] 5007 Å, [N ii] dicate empirical (solid) and theoretical (dashed) di-
star formation arising as a result of gas 6583 Å, Ha 6563 Å, and Hb 4861 Å, to distinguish viding lines between active galactic nuclei (AGN) and
galaxies that are dominated by ionisation from young star-forming galaxies, based upon the SDSS obser-
compression. There is evidence from­­
stars (labelled “Star-forming Galaxies”), from those vations (Kauffmann et al. 2003) and MAPPINGS III
­several different wavebands for outflows that are ionised by an accreting supermassive black photoionisation models (Kewley et al. 2002).
on various scales. The Ly-a halo kinemat- hole in the nucleus (Seyfert and LINER galaxies). The
ics also present evidence for inflowing
gas. The powerful radio sources appear
to be very effective at large (cluster)
scales by preventing cooling flows. With
their huge mechanical energies, com­ appear to be fed routinely from massive ment! We also await the capabilities of
parable to the bolometric luminosity, discs containing rich reservoirs of cold ALMA to map the cold gas and its mo-
these jets can do more than just prevent gas. tions at small spatial scales to see if this
cooling, they can remove gas entirely: gives insights into the flows of material to
we can see them excavating huge, buoy- the nucleus. Finally, we note that this re-
ant cavities within the surrounding halos Future port is being written just as the observa-
of hot, X-ray emitting gas. For the lower tion of the first directly observed (20 year)
luminosity AGN, the influence is felt How do we expect the field to develop in stellar orbit around our Galactic BH nu-
on smaller scales but the BH seem to be the near future? This is always a risky cleus is being completed.
able do a good job of controlling the thing to predict. It is safe to say that the
growth of the bulge. surveys will continue to pay a big divi-
dend towards the understanding of the References
How to grow massive enough BHs at BH demographics over the entire history Baldwin J., Phillips M. and Terlevich R. 1981,
early enough times – the Sloan z ~ 6 of the Universe. Detailed, sensitive and PASP 93, 5
QSOs contain SMBHs – is not easy to high-resolution observations with the Kauffmann G. et al. 2003, MNRAS 341, 54
understand. It seems to be possible, just. large telescopes will flesh out our primi- Kewley L. et al. 2002, ApJS 142, 35
Kewley L. et al. 2006, MNRAS 372, 961
But there is little room for inefficiency. tive understanding of the feedback mech­ Spoon H. et al. 2006, in “Astrochemistry: Recent
The wonderfully detailed studies of our anisms that maintain the balance be- Successes and Current Challenges”, eds. D. C.
own Galactic BH show just how difficult it tween stars and BH. We may even reach Lis, G. A. Blake and E. Herbst, IAU Symposium
is to get mass accretion working. Merg- the point of being able to replace the 231, 281
Spoon H. et al. 2007, ApJ 654, L49
ers clearly can play a part in getting mass ­famous Padovani/Urry AGN cartoon with
down to the nucleus but this is certain- a real image of the torus and the asso­ Conference web site:
ly not the only mechanism. Local AGN ciated components of the SMBH environ-

68 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical News

Report on the ESO Workshop on

12 Questions on Star and Massive Star Cluster Formation

held at ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 3–6 July 2007

Markus Kissler-Patig 1 various reasons. The main one is prob­ “How are the stellar and cluster initial
Tom Wilson 1 ably the distance of the studied objects. mass functions related and how are they
Nate Bastian 2 Star formation can be studied in great influenced by the star-formation history?”
Francesca D’Antona 3 detail close-by, i.e. in our Milky Way where
Richard de Grijs 4 distances are expressed in parsecs, and The first question of the workshop was
Dirk Froebrich 5 the studied regions enclose typically a posed and introduced by Marina Rejkuba.
Emmanuel Galliano 6 few hundred stars. In contrast, suitable It is an indisputable fact that star for­
Preben Grosbøl 1 targets for studying the formation of mas- mation is hierarchical. The empirical evi-
Kelsey Johnson 7 sive star clusters are only available in dence indicates that the initial mass func-
Eric Keto 8 neighbouring galaxies and distances to tion (IMF) of young embedded stellar
Ralf Klessen 9 them are rarely smaller than a few million clusters is a universal power law with a
Tom Megeath 10 parsecs – the studied objects enclose slope of 2.0, and that the stellar IMF
Marina Rejkuba 1 up to hundreds of millions of stars. The ­follows a universal segmented power law
Jürgen Steinacker 11 scales in which the two communities typ- in many different environments. The
Hans Zinnecker 12 ically think are thus different and the time ­validity of the power-law form for the IMF
had come to try to connect them. Fur­ was questioned in the discussion, but
ther, ALMA – the large sub-mm array – is opinions remain divided. The theoretical
ESO now within reach and will boost both arguments for the universal stellar IMF
University College London, fields, exactly allowing to connect the two were presented by Ralf Klessen, while
United Kingdom scales thanks to an increased sensitivity Hugues Sana and Jorge Melnick showed
Osservatorio di Roma, Italy and angular resolution. the pitfalls and problems in empirical de-
University of Sheffield, United Kingdom termination of the stellar IMF in clusters
University of Kent, United Kingdom The format we have chosen for the work- and in the field. Andrés Jordán discussed
Universidad de Chile, Santiago de shop was a new one: we built the pro- the form of the initial old cluster-mass
Chile, Chile gramme of the workshop around a num­ function.
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, ber of questions to be addressed in
­Virginia, USA dedicated sessions. We summarise here The fact that the clusters undergo mass-
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astro- some (not all) of the discussed points. loss and disruption on short timescales,
physics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, All presentations are available for down- leads to the composite nature of the field-
USA load from the workshop web site www. mass function. Whether this composite
Universität Heidelberg, Germany IMF is steeper, or has the same slope as
University of Toledo, Ohio, USA
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie,
Heidelberg, Germany
Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam,

The Workshop “12 Questions on Star

and Massive Star Cluster Formation”
was held in Garching from 3 to 6 July
2007. The programme was set up to
allow long (and fruitful) discussions
around several questions connecting
the formation of stars and star clus-
ters. Here we summarise some of the
discussions, and encourage interest-
ed readers to download the contribu-
tions from

In view of the booming fields of star for-

mation and star-cluster formation, we had
thought, back in mid-2006, to organise a
meeting that would bring these two com-
munities together. To an outsider, star
­formation and star-cluster formation might Figure 1: The conference delegates
collected in the entrance hall of
look like one and the same thing, yet
the ESO Headquarters in Garching.
these two communities rarely interact for

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 69

Astronomical News Kissler-Patig M. et al., 12 Questions on Star and Massive Star Cluster Formation

the star cluster IMF, has been shown to mass cluster stars affect the ISM and the clouds and the distribution of OB stars in
depend on the answer whether 20 clus- young sources in their neighbourhood. other galaxies. This analysis suggested
ters with 10 4 MA can produce the same hierarchical structure with no preferred
IMF, with the same maximum stellar mass, scale. Mark Gieles showed a minimum
as one cluster with 2 × 10 5 MA. With re- “What is the demographics of star forma- spanning tree analysis of the Small Mag-
spect to this point the two major theoreti- tion in our Galaxy and others?” ellanic Cloud where they segregated
cal works of Elmegreen and of Weidner sources by age. The youngest stars
and Kroupa disagree. Unfortunately, due In studies of galactic star formation, showed clear hierarchical structure while
to the often poorly known star-formation young stars have traditionally been sepa- the distribution of the oldest stars was in-
history of the observed field, and the rated into two demographic groups: iso- distinguishable from a random structure,
problems to establish the frequency of bi- lated stars and clustered stars. This pic- indicating that structure is erased as the
naries in the population, the observational ture is evolving for many reasons. Tom stars migrate from their birth sites. In
evidence seems to be still inconclusive. Megeath posed this question. He showed summary, the discussion of this question
Until the errors of the IMF derivation can Spitzer surveys of the giant molecular motivated the need to find Galactic ana-
be reduced, the question remains open. clouds in the nearest 1 kpc revealing the logues of extragalactic clusters and asso-
presence of large clusters, small groups, ciations. Furthermore, it demonstrated
and large numbers of relatively isolated the need for new methodologies for ana-
“What are the effects of stellar feed- stars. These surveys suggest that isolat­ed lysing structure on many different spatial
back?” stars and dense clusters are extremes of scales, such as the minimum spanning
a continuum. Galactic studies provide the tree or wavelet-based multi-resolution
In this session negative feedback effects, opportunity to study physical processes techniques.
namely the destruction of clusters, were in great detail and trace the distribution of
addressed. During the collapse and frag- low-mass stars which dominate the mass
mentation of a molecular cloud into a but are undetected in extragalactic ob- “How did star formation proceed in
star cluster, only a modest amount of the servations. Detected extragalactic clus- ­Globular Clusters?”
gas is turned into stars. The stellar winds, ters are much more massive than clusters
photoionisation, and supernovae from near the Sun such as the Orion Nebula In recent years, research on these very
massive stars inject enough energy into Cluster. Frédérique Motte suggested that old systems has shown that they are
the gas to remove it extremely rapidly our Galaxy contains large clusters which not the ‘simple stellar populations’ we
(in less than a dynamical crossing time). overlap with the continuum of observed thought they were; this topic was intro-
This rapid gas removal can leave a clus- extragalactic ones. Arjan Bik presented a duced by Francesca D’Antona. There
ter significantly out of equilibrium. If the programme to obtain infrared spectro- is precise spectroscopic evidence that
star-formation efficiency is low enough scopic maps of young embedded clus- chemical anomalies are present, gener-
(~ 30 % of the initial fraction of gas turned ters in our Galaxy; infrared spectroscopy ally involving about 50 % of the stars in
into stars) the entire cluster can become of the massive stars are needed to deter- each globular cluster (GC). Anomalies are
unbound. mine the membership, age and size of found in practically all clusters observed
these highly reddened Galactic regions. so far. Anomalies are also present among
Nate Bastian reviewed the physics and unevolved stars, so that they cannot be
some recent observations of this proc- Finally, there was a discussion of how imputed to ‘in situ’ mixing in giants. In
ess. In particular he discussed recent best to characterise the clusters, asso­ particular, sodium is enhanced and oxy-
N-body simulations of the effects of gas ciations and complexes of star formation gen depleted with respect to the normal
removal on the early evolution of clusters. in our Galaxy and others. Nate Bastian values in the field population II. This, in
He also reviewed recent attempts to introduced the minimum spanning tree the end, means that about half of the
quantify the amount of infant cluster mor- analysis (see Figure 2) and applied this to stars in the clusters (a second generation)
tality, with most studies finding values Spitzer surveys of nearby molecular are born from matter contaminated by
of 60–90 % of young clusters being dis-
rupted in the first 40 Myr of their lives.
45 � 63 ° 00�

Sabine Mengel focused on the young

massive cluster Westerlund 1 in the Gal-
axy. She concluded that the star-for­
30 �

mation efficiency of this cluster was quite

45� 62° 00� 15 �

high (> 60 %). Dieter Nürnberger concen-

trated on another young massive cluster Figure 2: Example of a
minimum spanning
in the Galaxy, namely NGC 3603. On the
10 pc

tree, presented by Nate

basis of multi-wavelength observations ­Bastian and collabora-
he pointed out that this cluster is part of tors, revealing the hier-
61° 15� 30�

a much larger area of star formation. He archical structure of star

formation (Figure cour-
also showed examples of how the high- tesy Gutermuth et al., in
23 h 20 m 15 m 10 m 05 m 00 m 23 h 55 m
Right Ascension preparation).

70 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

products of hot CNO burning in stars of time evolution of the objects might come sity environments), this will have impor-
the first generation, but not by supernova from competitive accretion. However, tant consequences for the accuracy of
ejecta, as the metallicity stays constant. no agreement could be reached on how the physical output parameters.
The culprits may be the ejecta of massive to interpret the observational evidence.
Asympotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars, as Joana Ascenso challenged this view.
pointed out by Paolo Ventura, or even the From a series of Monte Carlo realisations
envelopes of massive rotating stars, as “How does spiral structure affect of non-segregated synthetic clusters with
presented by Thibaut Decressin. The two star formation?” a standard IMF and a surface density
suggestions imply very different time ­distribution, she performed the ‘standard’
scales for the formation of the second Preben Grosbøl drew the attention back mass-segregation analysis. Surprisingly,
stellar generation (a few million years, or to extragalactic objects. Many grand-de- she found a similar degree of ‘primor-
many tens of millions of years after the sign spiral galaxies display a concentra- dial’ mass segregation as claimed in the
formation of the first-generation stars). tion of H ii regions and OB associations in ­observational studies of de Grijs and
The number ratio of the two generations, their arm regions. The increased num­- Gouliermis for young clusters in the Large
however, implies that the first generation ber of very young sources in the arms Magellanic Cloud, by Espinoza in the
in the pristine globular cluster must have suggests an enhanced star-formation rate ­Galactic Centre Arches cluster, and by
been much more massive (by a factor which could partly originate from a higher Brandner in Westerlund 1. Enrico Ves-
of 5–10) than today’s globular clusters, surface density in the arms due an un- perini used extensive N-body simulations
and this may provide us with hints about derlying density wave. On near-infrared to show that early mass segregation in
how to model the second stage of star K-band images of late-type spiral galax- young clusters may have a dynamical ori-
formation. Additional evidence of nuclear ies, one frequently observes bright knots gin. Despite the animated discussion fol-
processed matter is the presence of stars aligned along the arms. The colours lowing these thought-provoking presenta-
with helium content higher (and even of these knots indicate that they are very tions, the jury is still out on the basic
much higher, implying an incredibly high young, massive stellar clusters. The num­ underlying question of the importance or
slope of the He enrichment function dY/ ber and brightness of such sources cor- even the reality of primordial mass segre-
dZ) than the standard Big Bang abun- relate with absolute magnitude and spiral gation.
dances. Beautiful observations of splitting perturbation of the host galaxy. The align-
of the main sequences in two clusters ment is seen mainly in the galaxies with
were presented by Antonino Milone, on strong spiral arms, suggesting a trigger- “What is the relationship between the
behalf of Giampaolo Piotto’s group. This ing mechanism associated with the un- properties of star clusters and the
view was enlarged to consider low-mass derlying density wave. This could support ­environments from which they form?”
dwarf galaxies by Michael Hilker. a scenario in which young, massive clus-
ters are disrupted in an early phase, since The environment of massive star-cluster
fainter, aging clusters are not observed formation is determined by a large num-
“What governs protostellar mass downstream, as expected due to the rel- ber of parameters, including pressure,
­accretion?” ative motion between material and wave. density, temperature, turbulence, magnetic
fields, metallicity, gas content, galactic
The physical processes at work in the rotation (or lack thereof), and triggering
main mass accretion phase during the “How important is ‘primordial’ mass mechanisms. Of course, many of these
process of star formation were presented ­segregation in the context of massive star parameters are not orthogonal. The chal-
initially by Dirk Froebrich. In particular, cluster formation and evolution?” lenge, posed by Kelsey Johnson by this
the question of what are the main physi- question, was to ascertain which of these
cal forces and/or initial conditions respon­ This question was posed by Richard de parameters can essentially be neglected
sible for converting the observed core Grijs and led to a controversial discus- and which may have a significant impact
mass distribution into the stellar IMF was sion. Observations of young clusters in on the properties of the resulting clus­
discussed. It became apparent during the local Universe show that almost every ter(s). For example, one might expect me-
the discussion that, beside gravity, the in- single cluster is significantly mass seg­ tallicity to play a role in the properties of
itial specific angular momentum of the regated, out to radii well outside their the resulting cluster, yet the few observed
core most likely is the main influence on cores. This is particularly puzzling for the ultralow metallicity systems (e.g. IZw18,
the time dependence of the mass-accre- youngest star clusters, given that their SBS0335-052) show very diverse modes
tion rate onto the central object. In turn ages are often only a fraction of the time- of cluster formation, suggesting that me-
this is, together with the structure of the scales required for dynamical effects tallicity (at least down to this abundance)
object, what determines the time evolu- to become significant on cluster-wide does not play a dominant role. Detailed
tion of the protostellar observables (e.g. scales. If there is significant, possibly ‘pri- studies of the relation between specific
Tbol, L bol). Magnetic fields are considered mordial’, mass segregation within a clus- frequency of globular clusters and galaxy
to also be important in determining the ter at the youngest ages, and hence a type may provide important insight. How-
accretion rates, which reach much higher possible spatial dependence of the IMF ever, this is a blunt tool, and raises the
values than predicted by self-similar (i.e., in the sense of preferential formation challenge of relating the role of macro-
­collapse solutions. Further impact on the of the more massive stars in higher-den- scopic phenomena to local physics. A re-

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 71

Astronomical News

current theme in the presentations of Figure 3: A massive star-forming re-

gion, presented by Eric Keto, illustrat-
this session has been the importance of
ing massive accretion flows. The fig-
star-formation efficiency to cluster forma- ure shows an overlay of contours of
tion. However, this then begs the ques- emission from molecular gas on a
tion of what primarily determines the star- background image of mid-IR emission
from Spitzer Space Telescope data.
formation efficiency. On the macroscopic
The central cloud encloses a particu-
scale, perhaps the most plausible answer larly massive flow of 10 3 M A/yr into the
is pressure, but it is not yet clear what centre of the star cluster seen in the
subtleties, which may have a secondary IR. The innermost contour is about 30?
in diameter (0.9 pc at 6 kpc).
role, are hiding in the microphysics; we
must keep in mind that star formation is
a local process. Although it is currently
the fashion to accumulate large data sets
with impressive statistics, in-depth case
studies are still critical if we wish to disen-
tangle all of the ingredients affecting
massive star and star-cluster formation. combined mass of several O stars at forces of radiation and thermal pressure.
the cluster centre. Within a few thousand The observational evidence, and more
AU of the O stars, the molecular accre- of the physics of the upper stellar mass
“Which physics determine the stellar tion flow becomes ionised, but continues limit, are reviewed in the recent Annual
upper mass limit?” in toward the cluster centre because the Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics
escape velocity from the co-op of the article by Zinnecker and Yorke.
Finally, Hans Zinnecker, Eric Keto, stars exceeds the ionised sound speed.
Carsten Weidner and Hugues Sana set The ionised accretion flow spins up into Overall, the workshop certainly left us
out to answer this question. The most an ionised accretion disc at the cluster with more questions than answers, but
massive stars in the Galaxy are typically centre. Because the dust that was origi- the format was a success as the work-
found in a group of several similar stars at nally in the molecular accretion flow is shop was dominated by long and fruitful
the centre of an OB cluster, for example, ­destroyed by the high temperatures and discussions. The two communities work-
the Orion Trapezium. When we look at a densities in the disc, accretion can ing on star formation and star-cluster
very young, embedded OB associations ­continue onto the individual stars in the ­formation moved a step closer towards
still in formation, such as G10.6-0.4, we co-op, unimpeded by the intense radi­ each other and there is good hope that
see a massive molecular accretion flow ation pressure on dust. Secondly, in the they will merge in the epoch of ALMA.
into the centre of the cluster. Thus we ex- fully ionised flow there is no outward
pect the most massive stars in the Gal- pressure between the hot ionised and
axy to form at the centres of such cluster- cold molecular gas to impede the flow. Acknowledgements
scale accretion flows (see Figure 3). The Thus the cluster-scale cooperative ac­ We wish to acknowledge Christina Stoffer, who man-
accretion velocities indicate that the flow cretion flow sets up these two conditions aged all the logistics of the workshop, as well as
is a ‘cooperative accretion flow’ drawn that allow accretion onto very massive Arjan Bik for his help in the local organising commit-
by the cooperative gravitational pull of the O stars despite the presence of outward tee.

Announcement of a Workshop on

Science from UKIDSS

17–19 December 2007, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany

The workshop will take place a few with UKIDSS, and to share knowledge and an opportunity to discuss the future
weeks after the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky gained in working with the data and ideas direction.
Survey (UKIDSS) large Third Data for exploiting the archive efficiently, in
­Release (DR3). The purpose of the work- an informal atmosphere. The emphasis Registration will be open from 15 Sep-
shop is to provide a forum, bringing to- will be on work in progress. The work- tember 2007 at
gether European astronomers working on shop will include science and technical esoworkshop.
(or planning to work on) UKIDSS data, talks, and tutorials, as well as a sum-
to hear about science being undertaken mary of the current status of the surveys,

72 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical News

Observing at ESO: a New Procedure for Target and

Instrument Set-up Changes

Francesca Primas, Petra Nass, Until recently, requests for target/set-up additional (if they want to add new tar-
Olivier Hainaut, Michael Sterzik (all ESO) changes/additions were handled manu- gets, but please note that additional tar-
ally, via the submission of an e-mail to gets does not mean additional time);
the observatories (for Visitor Mode runs), BACK = back-up (when observations of
As stated in the ESO Call for Proposals, to the User Support Department (for the main science targets may be at risk
targets and constraints requested at time Service Mode runs), sometimes even via due to specific atmospheric conditions –
of proposal submission (i.e. at Phase 1) an e-mail to private accounts. In order this applies only to Visitor Mode runs).
are binding, because once the proposals to have a better overview of the requests At time of submission, the requester re-
have been evaluated by the Observing and properly log them in one central ceives an acknowledgement message,
Proposal Committee, the requested tar- place, we have now developed and de- and later on the official answer with the
gets and constraints become one of ployed a new web-based form for approval or rejection of (or part of) the
the major inputs to finalise and optimise the submission of these requests, which ­request. Response time may vary, de-
the scheduling of the telescopes. How- is available at pending on the urgency of the request.
ever, part of the success of an observa- observing/p2pp/ProgChange/.
tory comes also from the ability to bal- The form was publicly released on 3 July
ance operational efficiency (hence rules As for other services we provide (e.g. 2007 (announced under the “What’s New”
and procedures) and scientific return. Service Mode run status progress report section of the USD P2PP public web
In other words, target and/or instrument pages), access to the form requires a page), simultaneously with the start of the
set-up changes are allowed also after P2PP (Phase 2 Preparation tool) pass- Phase 2 preparation for Period 80. After
Phase 1, but only after they have been word and valid run ID, and the selec- a smooth transition period for Service
carefully scrutinised. Their approval is sub­ tion between a target or an instrument Mode runs, the new procedure for target/
ject to the following conditions: set-up change. Once the user and the set-up change requests is now in place
a) all requests must be accompanied by a run are verified, the list of the Phase 1 tar- also for Visitor Mode runs, as reflected in
sound and robust scientific justification; gets is displayed and a few fields need the Paranal and La Silla Science Opera-
b) no conflict is found with already ap- to be filled out: a scientific/technical justi- tions pages for Visiting Astronomers
proved (thus protected) targets/set-ups fication in support of the request; co- (
from other programmes; or­dinates of the new targets or the newly backup.html and
c) the impact on the telescope schedule requested instrument set-up. If the lasilla/sciops/). We are still working on
due to the requested change is insig- change request is for targets, users also the form and small changes in its appear-
nificant. need to specify a target type, to be cho- ance will certainly appear in the coming
sen among: REPL = replacement (when semesters, because it is only with experi-
they wish to discard and replace one ence that possible shortcomings can be
or more of their Phase 1 targets); ADDI = identified.

Personnel Movements

Arrivals (1 July– 30 September 2007) Departures (1 July– 30 September 2007)

Europe Europe
de Zeeuw, Pieter Timotheus (NL) Director General Bik, Adrianus (NL) Fellow
Döllinger, Michaela (D) Fellow Fedele, Davide (I) Student
Hansen, Camilla Juul (DK) Student Harrison, Paul (GB) Software Engineer
Hinterschuster, Renate (D) Draughtswoman Jordán, Andrés (RCH) Fellow
Jochum, Lieselotte (D) System Engineer/Physicist Kainulainen, Jouni (FIN) Student
Korhonen, Heidi Helena (FIN) Fellow Messineo, Maria (I) Fellow
Lind, Karin (S) Student Parker, Laura (CDN) Fellow
Raiter, Anna (PL) Student Rzepecki, Jaroslaw P. (PL) Student
Russo, Pedro Miguel (P) Paid Astronomer Schuhler, Nicolas (F) Optical Engineer
van Belle, Gerard (USA) Instrument Scientist Silva Smiljanic, Rodolfo (BR) Student
Ventimiglia, Giulia (I) Student Thebaud, Nathalie (F) Secretary/Assistant
Vera Sequeiros, Ignacio (ES) Software Engineer/Database Design Valenti, Stefano (I) Student
Villegas Mansilla, Daniela (RCH) Student
Zilio, Davide (I) Student
Chile Chile
Bensby, Thomas Lennart (S) Fellow Anciaux, Michel (B) Engineer
Carraro, Giovanni (I) Operations Astronomer Caruso, Fabio (I) Instrumentation Engineer
Garcia-Appadoo, Diego Alex (ES) Fellow Demartis, Walter (I) Personnel Officer
Gutierrez, Adriana (RCH) Administrative Assistant Elliott, David (GB) Student
Rabanus, David (D) Telescope Scientist Galliano, Emmanuel (F) Fellow
Saavedra, Marcia (RCH) Personnel Officer Papadaki, Christina (GR) Student
Sanzana, Lilian (RCH) Software Engineer
West, Michael (USA) Senior Astronomer

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 73

Astronomical News

Scisoft VII – with Virtual Observatory Support

Richard Hook (ST-ECF/ESO) tual Observatory (VO) tools as well as ex- shop/webshop/webshop.php?show=
on behalf of the Scisoft Team tended support for longer-wavelength sales&section=cdroms. We also continue
data handling from submillimetre facilities to support a mirror of the Scisoft collec-
such as APEX. tion in China (
The Scisoft bundle is a collection of as- Note that only requests from China, to be
tronomical software intended mostly A list of the items included in the new delivered in China, are accepted by the
for ESO users but which is also distrib- version, and where there are changes Chinese mirror site.
uted to other interested parties. It in- from the previous one, is given on the
cludes most of the packages needed by web pages. Scisoft VII was built on, and Scisoft is a collaboration involving many
working observational astronomers, with intended to be used on, Fedora Core 6 people. I would particularly like to thank
emphasis on those widely used for Linux, but is likely to run on many simi- Mathias André and Jean-Christophe
­handling optical and infrared data sets. lar modern Linux systems. We no longer Malapert for their help with the prepara-
Scisoft is installed on almost all the maintain a version of Scisoft for other tion of the release. I would also like to
­scientific computers running Linux at ESO ­architectures such as Solaris or HPUX, thank Markus Dolensky for proposing the
Garching and widely at the ESO sites in but a similar version for Mac OSX, pro- addition of VO content and Mark Allen
Chile. More complete details can be duced independently of ESO, is also (CDS, Strasbourg) for selecting the VO
found on the Scisoft web pages at http:// available through a link on the Scisoft tools we include. We are grateful to web page. Chenzhou Cui of the National Astronomi-
cal Observatory, Chinese Academy of
We are pleased to announce the availabil- Scisoft VII can be either downloaded Sciences, for his continued support of
ity of Scisoft VII (June 2007). This new from the ESO ftp site ( the Chinese mirror. Finally a special word
version of the collection includes many scisoft/scisoft7/linux/fedora6/) or the en- of thanks goes to Peter Stetson (HIA,
updates and additional packages and tire collection may be requested on DVD Canada) for allowing us to include DAO-
also incorporates some new features. For through the ST-ECF on-line shop at Phot and related tools in the collection.
the first time we have a collection of Vir-

Gruber Prize in Cosmology Awarded for the Discovery

of the Accelerated Expansion of the Universe

Nearly a decade ago astronomers from at Oxford University) and Chris Lidman to honour and encourage educational
two competing teams announced that (ESO Chile) were ESO Fellows when ­excellence, social justice and scientific
they had found evidence for an acceler- they contributed to the work of the Super­- achievements that better the human con-
ated cosmic expansion. The Gruber nova Cosmology Project, while Jason dition.
Prize in Cosmology 2007 honours this Spyromilio and Bruno Leibundgut (both
achievement and has been awarded ESO Garching) participated in the High-z In the meantime research on Dark Energy
to two groups: the Supernova Cosmology Supernova Search Team. has become a major cosmological enter-
Pro­ject team, led by Saul Perlmutter prise. Characterising the nature of Dark
­(Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), and the The citation by the Gruber foundation Energy has direct implications on particle
High-z Supernova Search Team, led by reads: “Saul Perlmutter and Brian physics as well. The original work on
Brian Schmidt (Australian National Univer- Schmidt and their teams: the Supernova the cosmic acceleration has been contin-
sity). Their results were based on the Cosmology Project and the High-z Su- ued and expanded by several active
­observations of distant Type Ia superno- pernova Search Team, independently dis- teams. Many of the scientists in the origi-
vae and were obtained with the major covered that the expansion of the Uni- nal teams are members of these new
tele­scopes at the time (Riess et al. 1998, verse is accelerating. Their discovery led ­efforts working towards determining the
AJ 116, 1009; Perlmutter et al. 1999, to the idea of an expansion force, dubbed equation of state of Dark Energy. Most
ApJ 517, 565). Both teams used the Dark Energy. And it suggested that the of these experiments make extensive use
3.6-m telescope and the NTT to contrib- fate of the Universe is to just keep expand- of the VLT, together with Keck, Gemini
ute photometry and spectroscopic clas­ ing, faster and faster.” and the Magellan telescopes, for the
sifications of the supernovae. Four people spectroscopic classification and exami-
at ESO were directly involved in the two The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation nation of possible evolutionary trends of
teams and are recognised as co-recipi- is a private, United States-based philan- the supernovae.
ents of the Gruber Prize. Isobel Hook (now thropic organisation established in 1993

74 The Messenger 129 – September 2007

Astronomical News

Fellows at ESO

My scientific interests focus on extra-­ galaxy. This aroused my curiosity about

galactic globular clusters and dwarf gal- host galaxies of active galactic nuclei,
axies. I am particularly interested in the the evolution and dynamics of which has
transition region between these classes since then been my main research area.
of objects, represented by the so-called As Ph.D. project, which was partly sup-
‘ultracompact dwarf galaxies’. Further- ported by a scholarship of the German
more, I study the peculiar velocity field in National Merit Foundation, I extended my
the nearby Universe and the faint end of work on multiparticle modelling of quasar
the galaxy luminosity function. host galaxies and became acquainted
with the reduction of a complementary
For my functional duties, I am assigned to set of near-infrared images and spectra.
the User Support Department, where I
support service mode runs for WFI, Feros Having completed my Ph.D. without any
and VIMOS. While working for ESO I have practical observing experience, I was
gained invaluable insights into many eager to find a postdoc position which
­aspects of running the world’s most ad- would involve observational tasks. The
Steffen Mieske vanced ground-based observatory. Per- ESO fellowship in Chile was my first
sonally, I have been very much impressed choice and has more than fulfilled my ex-
by the momentum gained for the E-ELT pectations. Since my first days in Chile
Steffen Mieske development since I started at ESO two in May 2005 I have been fascinated by
years ago. I am looking forward to an ex- the combination of research and function-
My fascination with astronomy started citing last year of my fellowship. al work in a multinational environment.
very early in life. At the age of 14, I wrote As for the functional part, I am assigned
a 200-page science fiction novel – which to La Silla science operations, where I
nobody except my best friend and I Julia Scharwächter work as a support astronomer at the NTT
has ever read. At about the same time, I and, since July 2007, as the first instru-
made a very daring bet with the same While observing stellar constellations in ment scientist for SOFI. The expertise
friend regarding our future professions, minus-degree German winter nights, I among my colleagues and the continu-
the stake being 100 Deutsche Mark. He became interested in the physical back- ous interaction with visiting astronomers
bet that he would become a boarding- ground of night-sky phenomena. When I provide a unique opportunity to learn
school teacher, and I bet I would become discovered that “astrophysicist” could about different research areas and obser­-
an astronomer. Both of us have won the also be a profession, I decided to study vational techniques, as well as to ad-
bet. physics at the University of Cologne, vance one’s own research projects with
where later I did my diploma and Ph.D. new ideas. In addition, I very much en­-
At Bonn University I studied physics be- theses in astrophysics, supervised by joy living in Chile, every now and then
tween 1996 and 2001, and my fascination Prof. Dr. Andreas Eckart. For my diploma stealing a glance at the Andes or by night
for astronomy continued. During the last thesis I used multiparticle simulations at Orion upside down.
year of my undergraduate studies I spent to model the dynamics of a quasar host
10 months in Chile at the Astronomical
­Institute of the Pontificia Universidad Ca­
tó­lica. I pursued my Ph.D. work at Bonn
University between 2002 and 2005,
­supervised by Michael Hilker and Klaas
S. de Boer. During this time I spent an-
other 22 months at Universidad Católica,
my Chilean thesis advisor being Leopoldo
­Infante. Back in Germany, three days
­before Christmas 2004 I was notified of
being selected as an ESO fellow. What
a nice present! I started my fellowship in
August 2005.

Julia Scharwächter

The Messenger 129 – September 2007 75

ESO is the European Organisation for Contents
Astronomical Research in the Southern
Hemisphere. Whilst the Headquarters Telescopes and Instrumentation
(comprising the scientific, technical and G. Siringo et al. – A New Era in Submillimetre Continuum Astronomy
administrative centre of the organisa- has Begun: LABOCA Starts Operation on APEX 2
tion) are located in Garching near E. Marchetti et al. – On-sky Testing of the Multi-Conjugate
­Munich, Germany, ESO operates three Adaptive Optics Demonstrator 8
observational sites in the Chilean Ata­- I. Saviane et al. – Circular Polarimetry Now Offered at EFOSC2 14
cama desert. The Very Large Telescope G. Ihle, N. Montano, R. Tamai – The 3.6-m Dome: 30 Years After 18
(VLT), is located on Paranal, a 2 600 m F. Kerber, F. Saitta, P. Bristow – Calibration Sources for the Near-IR Arm
high mountain south of Antofagasta. At of X-shooter 21
La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de C. Araujo-Hauck et al. – Future Wavelength Calibration Standards at ESO:
Chile at 2 400 m altitude, ESO operates the Laser Frequency Comb 24
several medium-sized optical tele­ A. Wicenec, J. Knudstrup – ESO’s Next Generation Archive System
scopes. The third site is the 5 000 m in Full Operation 27
high Llano de Chajnantor, near San
Pedro de Atacama. Here a new submilli- Astronomical Science
metre telescope (APEX) is in opera- C. Spiering – Status and Perspectives of Astroparticle Physics in Europe 33
tion, and a giant array of 12-m submil- A. J. Fox et al. – Hot Gas in High-Redshift Protogalaxies:
limetre antennas (ALMA) is under Observations of High-Ion Absorption in Damped Lyman-Alpha Systems 38
development. Over 1600 proposals are R. Falomo, A. Treves – The Redshift of BL Lacertae Objects from
made each year for the use of the ESO High Signal-to-Noise VLT Spectra 42
telescopes. E. Treister et al. – Results from the Multiwavelength Survey by Yale-Chile 45
M. Hilker et al. – Weighing Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies
The ESO Messenger is published four in the Fornax Cluster 49
times a year: normally in March, June, P. A. Crowther, L. J. Hadfield – VLT/FORS Surveys of Wolf-Rayet Stars
September and December. ESO also beyond the Local Group: Type Ib/c Supernova Progenitors? 53
publishes Conference Proceedings and S. Protopapa, T. Herbst, H. Böhnhardt – Surface Ice Spectroscopy of
other material connected to its activi- Pluto, Charon and Triton 58
ties. Press Releases inform the media
about particular events. For further Astronomical News
in­formation, contact the ESO Public G. Avila et al. – BACHES – A Compact Light-Weight Echelle Spectrograph
­Affairs Department at the following ad- for Amateur Astronomy 62
dress: R. A. E. Fosbury et al. – Report on the ESO Workshop on Obscured AGN
across Cosmic Time 64
ESO Headquarters M. Kissler-Patig et al. – Report on the ESO Workshop on 12 Questions on
Karl-Schwarzschild-Straße 2 Star and Massive Star Cluster Formation 69
85748 Garching bei München Announcement of a Workshop on Science from UKIDSS 72
Germany F. Primas et al. – Observing at ESO: a New Procedure for Target and
Phone +49 89 320 06-0 Instrument Set-up Changes 73
Fax +49 89 320 23 62 Personnel Movements 73 R. Hook – Scisoft VII – with Virtual Observatory Support 74 Gruber Prize in Cosmology Awarded for the Discovery of the
Accelerated Expansion of the Universe 74
The ESO Messenger: Fellows at ESO – S. Mieske, J. Scharwächter 75
Editor: Jeremy R. Walsh
Technical editor: Jutta Boxheimer
Technical assistant: Mafalda Martins
Front Cover Picture: The southern Corrigendum: In the June issue of the
Printed by barred spiral galaxy NGC 1313. Active Messenger (No. 128), the caption (back
Peschke Druck star formation is evident from the pres- page, page 80) to the front cover image
Schatzbogen 35 ence of many H ii region nebulae which wrongly described the configuration
81805 München surround clusters of young hot stars, of two of the three ALMA antennas. The
Germany ­including Wolf-Rayet stars (see article European (AEC Consortium) antenna
on page 53). This colour-composite is in fact the one on the left and the US
© ESO 2007 (ESO Press Photo 43/06) is based on (Vertex RSI) antenna the one in the
ISSN 0722-6691 images obtained with the VLT FORS1 ­middle. In addition the ­photograph was
instrument. by Herbert Zodet (ESO).