Research infrastructure

Physics and engineering sciences

Research infrastructure

Physics and engineering sciences

ESO – European Southern Observatory

Telescope in Chile for astronomy. Onsala Space Observatory (see below) is responsible for user support and data handling from the ALMA telescope.

ESO is a convention-bound international organisation for astronomy research, where Sweden has been a member since the foundation in 1962. Today, it consists of 16 member countries, and the Swedish Research Council represents Sweden on the governing bodies. ESO is based in Germany, but the observatories La Silla-Paranal and ALMA are located in Chile, where the new telescope E-ELT is also under construction.

At La Silla and Paranal, there are a number of large telescopes for observations in the optical and infrared wavelength areas, among them VLT (Very Large Telescope), consisting of four 8.2 metre telescopes. ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) consists of 66 linked radio antennae, and is a partnership between primarily ESO, USA and Japan. At ALMA, there is also the APEX telescope, which is a collaboration between ESO, the German Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy and the Swedish Onsala Space Observatory.

The research conducted in Sweden with the help of ESO's facilities range across all major questions in modern astronomy, such as the formation and development of galaxies, stars and planetary systems, and studies of extreme conditions in the universe, such as flows of gas around black holes. ESO's highest priority over the next few years is to complete the world’s largest telescope for visible and infrared light, E-ELT – European Extremely Large Telescope. The telescope will have a mirror diameter of 38 metres, and will be completed in 2024 at the earliest. Observations using E-ELT will contribute to answering questions about planets beyond our solar system and monitoring the birth of large-scale structures in the universe.

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This infrastructure is funded by the Swedish Research Council.