Paranal Instrumentation

The Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal is ESO's premier site for observations in the visible and infrared. All four unit telescopes of 8.2m diameter are individually in operation with the instruments listed below.

The VLT offers also the possibility of combining coherently the light from the four UTs to work as an interferometer, the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), with its own suite of instruments, ultimately providing imagery at the milli arcsecond level as well as astrometry at 10 micro arcsecond precision. In addition to the 8.2m telescopes the VLTI will soon be complemented with four Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of 1.8m diameter to improve its imaging capabilities and enable full nighttime use on a year-round basis

Two telescopes for imaging surveys are also under construction for Paranal, the VLT Survey Telescope (VST, 2.6m) for the visible, and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA, 4m).

News

Please check the Latest News from Paranal Observatory and the Latest News on ESO Instrumentation.

First Generation VLT Instruments

Ten of ultimately eleven first generation instruments are in operation at the VLT. They are offered each semester through a Call for observing proposals and are operated by Paranal Science Operations. The remaining instrument, HAWK-I, will be installed later in 2007. We give an overview of their global observing capabilities, together with a short description of the VLT's observational strategy. The final instrument distribution among the four VLT Unit Telescopes is shown in the clickable map and table below, which also contain links to VLTI, VST & VISTA instruments.

(First Generation Paranal instruments clickable map)

VLT Instrumentation FLAMES Visitor Focus VLT Survey Telescope SINFONI - SINgle Far Object Near-ir Investigation NACO Nasmyth Adaptive Optics/Near Infrared Camera VIMOS VIsible MultiObject Spectrograph FORS-Focal Reducer Spectrograph ISAAC Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera VLT Unit Telescope UV-Visual Echelle Spectrograph VLT Unit Telescope FORS-Focal Reducer Spectrograph VLT Unit Telescope VLT Unit Telescope CRIRES - VLT High-Resolution IR Echelle Laser Guide Star OmegaCAM PRIMA AMBER MIDI Mid IR Interferometric Instrument VLT Interferometer Visible & Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy VISIR VLT Imager and Spectrometer for Mid Infrared HAWK-I

Currently, the instruments are or will be mounted on the telescopes at these foci:

Telescope Focus
  Nasmyth A Cassegrain Nasmyth B interferometric
UT1 (ANTU) CRIRES FORS2 ISAAC

MIDI

AMBER

PRIMA

UT2 (KUEYEN) FLAMES FORS1 UVES
UT3 (MELIPAL) visitor VISIR VIMOS
UT4 (YEPUN) HAWK-I SINFONI NACO
Laser Guide Star
VST n/a OmegaCAM n/a n/a
VISTA n/a IR camera n/a n/a

Instruments or facilities still under construction or commissioning are indicated in italics.

Second Generation VLT Instruments

The process for the construction of the approved second generation of VLT Instruments is now in progress:

  • X-shooter (a wide-band [UV to near infrared] point source spectrometer) is in the final design phase
  • KMOS (a cryogenic infrared multi-object spectrometer) is in the pre-design phase
  • MUSE (a huge "3-dimensional" spectroscopic explorer) is in the pre-design phase
  • SPHERE (a high contrast exoplanet searcher) is in the pre-design phase

VLT Visitor Instruments

Apart from these "Facility Instruments" which are available to the whole community ESO offers the possibility to instrument teams to build instruments for their own use, highly specialised towards the well defined scientific goals of the team. See the dedicated page for this Visitor Focus.

Imaging survey instruments at Paranal

The VST and VISTA will both be equipped with imaging cameras, OmegaCAM for the visible at the VST and an IR camera for VISTA.

Other facilities of use for observers

Paranal is operating an All Sky Monitor called MASCOT. Although no real-time images are (yet) available, images (taken every three minutes) can be retrieved from the Science Archive.

 
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