ESO Director General, Xavier Barcons visits the Faculty of Physical Sciences

Xavier Barcons visited the Complutense University on Friday 5 April, invited by IPARCOS and he gave a talk, entitled ESO: Building and operating the most powerful ground-based telescopes.

Barcons explained to a room full of researchers and students how is the day to day in an organization with the size of the European Southern Observatory that has unique facilities.

Xavier offered a tour of the ESO facilities to those attending the meeting, explaining the current state of the telescopes, which are operating and the two futures to be built in the 2020s: ELT (already under construction) and CTA (in the design phase). He highlighted the revolution brought by the use of interferometry in the ALMA telescope and how this “has meant a transformational science in all senses”.

“The ESO is not only dedicated to the exploitation of its infrastructures”, in the words of its Director, “it also spends a lot of time and effort in dissemination and education, for example, with the new Supernova Visitor Centre located in Germany”.

To conclude, Xavier Barcons highlighted some scientific milestones achieved by ESO in recent years: such as the first photograph of the shadow of a black hole, participation in the detection of gravitational waves with LIGO-VIRGO or the discovery of the seven planets orbiting the nearby ultra-cold dwarf star TRAPPIST-1.