Message from the President
Roger Davies, the new EAS President
It is an honour and a privilege to be taking over as President of the EAS. I follow Thierry Courvoisier who was been President of the Society for seven years and my first act is to recognise the huge contribution Thierry has made to the Society. He presided over the creation of EWASS (transformed from the earlier JENAM) which has become the annual focal point of the Society's activity. Under Thierry the Society grew in both membership and influence, and it is thanks to his leadership that I am taking over a Society in strong health. ▸ Read more
My presidency started at the Prague EWASS which was a wonderful festival of astronomy capably organised by the SOC and LOC who did a terrific job. The meeting was a fitting celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Czech Astronomical Society. I would like to thank the organisers and all the speakers for making EWASS 2017 a stimulating and memorable event. You will find many of the Symposia held during the meeting summarised later in this e-Newsletter. I look forward to seeing you all again in Liverpool 3-6th April 2018 for the next EWASS.
Draft report by EAS Working Group on Ethics
EAS membership invited to send comments and suggestions
Recognising the importance of a wide range of ethical, behavioural and professional issues affecting astronomy, the Council of the EAS has formed a Working Group on Ethics. This Working Group has produced a report which Council has discussed and now wishes to put forward for consultation by the EAS membership. ▸ Read more
Members of the EAS Working Group on Ethics are Sara Lucatello (chair, INAF, Italy), Joao Alves (Univ Vienna, Austria), Bililign Dullo (UCM, Spain), Jo Jarvis (Open University, UK), Claudia Lagos (UWA, Australia), Johan Knapen (IAC, Spain), Francesca Primas (ESO), Rodolfo Smiljanic (CAMK, Poland), Darach Watson (DARK center, Denmark).
An invitation to nominate candidate Councillors
The first election of Councillors according to the new procedure
In July 2018 three members of EAS Council will have served their first full term. At the last General Assembly a new procedure for electing Councillors was approved. The amended by-laws and constitution can be found here. In accordance to the new procedure, ordinary members are invited to nominate candidates, provided such candidates have indicated in writing that they are willing to serve if elected. Nominations need to arrive, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), to Council no later than 30 November 2017.
Call for nominations for the Tycho Brahe Prize 2018
Deadline: 31 October 2017
The EAS Council now invites EAS members to nominate suitable candidates for The Tycho Brahe Prize 2018. The prize is awarded annually in recognition of the development or exploitation of European instruments, or major discoveries based largely on such instruments. ▸ Read more
The prize carries a monetary reward of 6000 €. Short biographies of previous years' awardees and full details regarding the prize are to be found on the EAS website. There are no restrictions to the nationality of the candidates nor to the country of origin or residence. Nominations are only accepted through a web form accessible for EAS members. The deadline for 2018 nominations is Tuesday, 31 October 2017.Tycho Brahe Prize Nomination
Possibility of co-payment of EAS membership fee no longer offered
Important information for RAS and SEA members
It has been possible for certain EAS members to pay their membership fees together with the fees of their national societies. For 2017, this has only been possible for the Spanish SEA and the UK RAS, but the EAS has now agreed with both these societies to stop offering the possibility for 2018. ▸ Read more
The reason is that this method of co-payment, which in the past saved work and costs, has become redundant now EAS membership fees can be paid using online payment, and now in fact causes considerable extra work both the SEA and RAS, and for the EAS office. EAS members who used this facility are asked to pay their EAS fees directly to the EAS.
EWASS registration fees
How to balance financial risk, income and expenditure
The yearly European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) is going from strength to strength, and is developing into the main regular meeting in our field in Europe. The organisation of EWASS is driven by a need for further homogenisation and professionalisation of the meetings, while at the same making them more attractive for a broad audience. But organising such large meetings professionally comes at a cost. ▸ Read more
Turning EWASS into the main astronomy meeting in Europe is one of the aims of the EAS Council, who recognised that we in Europe did not have a regular general meeting, equivalent to, e.g., the meeting series of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), and that we should aim to develop one. Council aims at organising a professional EWASS meeting that is attractive for all astronomers in Europe and beyond, including younger astronomers and PhD students, and those working in fields which traditionally may have felt a bit outside the remit of EWASS (such as Solar physics or astroparticle physics).
Why does registration become more expensive after a certain date? This has everything to do with planning. It is very hard to forecast the number of attendees, yet the EAS has to make substantial financial commitments many months in advance of the meeting, and set the registration fee and the charges for the social events before any income has come in. Adjusting numbers, either up or down, becomes increasingly costly as one gets nearer the meeting. So cheaper early registration fees are a direct incentive for people to register early, which will also provide cash for early expenses. In the case of the Liverpool 2018 EWASS, for instance, substantial and non-refundable payments for venue rental have had to be made well before registration opened.
EWASS 2017 in Prague
An impression from the chairs of the hosting and scientific committees
The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) is the annual conference of the European Astronomical Society (EAS). With more than 20 years of tradition, it has imposed itself as the largest meeting of European astronomy. Prague already hosted JENAM 1998 and JENAM 2006, the latter as part of the XXVIth IAU General Assembly. ▸ Read more
Prague welcomed 1160 astronomers from 52 countries who came to discuss and evaluate the most recent discoveries and observations, to attack fundamental scientific, technical and administrative problems, and to agree on future international cooperation. The topics covered all astronomical disciplines, ranging from our closest neighborhood to the farthest objects of the universe. The EWASS 2017 was attended by 225 students (under and post graduated) and by other 40 volunteers, students and post-docs who helped with the organization on site.
During the EWASS 2017, there were 16 two-day symposia and 21 one-day special sessions held in 11 parallel sessions with 723 oral presentations, and 423 posters. In addition, there were 12 plenary lectures and other events, such as the opening and closing ceremony, an equity and diversity luncheon, as well as the workshop "Writing proposals for positions and telescope time", the latter two organized during midday breaks. An exhibition was set up at the venue of the EWASS 2017 in which 11 companies and institutions participated.
As part of the accompanying programme, two presentations were also made for the general public at the building of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), and two public exhibitions were organised: "AD INFINITUM: Look into the Depths of the Universe" at the Gallery of Science and Arts of the CAS, and the "Universe - yours to discover" outdoor exhibition in front of the Rudolfinum.
A rich accompanying program was prepared for the participants and accompanying persons. In the evenings since Monday to Thursday there were the welcome reception, the EWASS President's dinner, students event, and the concert of classic music with the gala dinner. The participants could also choose excursions to the town Prague and to other places in the Czech Republic. The greatest interest was about the "Astronomical tour of Prague", where Czech astronomers guided interested persons.
EWASS 2017 in Prague was a great success !
Cyril Ron, chair of the Hosting Committee
Jan Palouš, chair of the Scientific Committee
EWASS 2018 in Liverpool
Deadlines for abstract submission and early bird registration
The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science 2018, the joint annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society and the National Astronomy Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, will take place from 3 to 6 April 2018, i.e. in the week following Easter Monday. The venue is the Arena & Convention Center (ACC) in Liverpool. The ACC is a professional conference center that provides excellent facilities to host the EWASS meeting expecting over a 1000 participants. ▸ Read more
The SOC, chaired by Chris Collins and Gabriella de Lucia, received over 100 proposals to organise symposia and special sessions. The SOC selected 11 symposia and 31 special sessions; the topics cover a wide range in astronomy. The PIs of the selected symposia and special sessions are currently defining the respective scientific programs. The abstract submission deadline is 27 November 2017. The very early bird registration deadline is 22 December 2017. We wish the EWASS Hosting Committee chaired by Matt Darnley success in organising the logistics and social program of the meeting and look forward to welcoming you in Liverpool.
Exoplanet science in the coming decade: the bright and nearby future
EWASS 2017 symposium 1
The prospects for exoplanet science in the immediate future are excellent. In view of this timeliness, EWASS symposium 4 intended to summarize the latest developments in exoplanetary science, with an emphasis on exoplanet projects expected for the next decade. The symposium was held on two days, 26 and 27 June 2017. ▸ Read more
2018 will be a key year with the launches of several space missions dedicated to exoplanets: NASA will launch the TESS mission which performs an all-sky transit; the Swiss-led ESA mission CHEOPS will become the first mission dedicated to characterize already known exoplanets. The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is also planned for that year. And on the ground, ESPRESSO at the VLT is expected to become operational, providing radial velocities with unprecedented precision. Therefore, we are the beginning of a decade during which many breakthroughs in exoplanet science can be expected.
1st Gaia data, new science, new opportunities, synergies with radio astrometry - the GREAT network
EWASS 2017 symposium 2
The GREAT (Gaia Research for European Astronomy Training) initiative is a pan-European research network involving over 500 researchers in 20+ countries with a common interest in aiming to maximise the science potential of Gaia. This 10th GREAT network annual plenary meeting was co-located at the EWASS 2017 in Prague, constituted as Science Symposium 2. It was organised in six sessions, with 34 presentations, over the days 26-27 June 2017. ▸ Read more
Following the successful open model adopted at the 5th GREAT Plenary in
2012, the community were invited to submit their proposed talk titles and
abstracts on the meeting wiki. The final meeting programme was then
generated by the SOC based on those contributions. The symposium was
attended by over 100 people. All sessions were well attended, with lively
discussion after each presentation. Full details of the programme and the
presentations for S2 are available here.
The third session on Gaia DR1 science contained a variety of presentations: on binary stars (Boffin), the transient sky (Hodgkin), nuclear transients (Kostrzewa-Rutkowska), testing Milky Way thin disk models with Gaia (Sysoliatina), a novel method of measuring the Sun's motion through the analysis of stellar streams (Malhan), and applying the M2M modelling method to Gaia data (Hunt).
Session 2 was devoted to Gaia and the second data release scheduled for April 2018. Prusti summarized the Gaia mission status and Brown provided and overview of the data processing for DR2, as well as some some preliminary performance statistics and he announced the time line for Gaia DR3 (mid-to-end 2020) and Gaia DR4 (end 2022). These presentations were complemented by more detailed presentations on the photometric and radial velocity data processing for Gaia DR2 by De Angeli and Blomme, respectively. Walton closed this session with and update on the activities within the GREAT network.
Session 5 was dedicated to synergies between Gaia and other surveys. Veljanoski presented an overview of the large spectroscopic surveys that are ongoing or planned to complement the Gaia data. Anders and Vickers showed in detail the synergies between Gaia and APOGEE and Gaia and LAMOST. Hill presented the plans for Milky Way spectroscopic surveys with the WEAVE instrument. Honma closed session 5 and opened the "Synergies with Radio Astrometry" session with an introduction of radio astrometry and radio very long baseline interferometry (VLBI).
In addition to the main speaker programme, 21 posters were presented. The next GREAT plenary will be a symposium at the 2018 EWASS in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Anthony Brown, Leiden Observatory, Leiden, NL
Kazi Rigl, Istituto di Radioastronomia, Bologna, IT
Nicholas Walton, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK
Timo Prusti, ESTEC, ESA, Noordwijk, NL EWASS symposium 2 website
Comparing simulations and observations of the varying scales of star formation
EWASS 2017 symposium 3
The formation of stars is of fundamental importance in virtually every field of astrophysics, from the birth of planetary systems to the life-cycle of matter within galaxies. Stars are born in the densest regions of molecular clouds, but this process is inefficient. The physical mechanisms responsible for determining the star formation efficiency remain the subject of debate. Possible causes, such as turbulence, magnetic fields and stellar feedback, can operate over a vast range of physical scales, rendering it highly challenging to determine the relative importance of each process. ▸ Read more
Until recently, studies of star formation in the Milky Way have mainly focused on individual star-forming regions, but there is growing evidence that star formation is intrinsically a multi-scale process and that the large-scale environment within the Galaxy can influence the behaviour of star-forming regions on small scales. A concerted effort to study the connection between small-scale processes and large-scale environment, both in the Milky Way and in other nearby galaxies, is essential to understand what regulates star formation in galaxies.
Our symposium was divided into two parts, the first reviewing the observations and simulations of star formation across varying scales, with the second confronting a new problem, how to compare the simulations with observations. This involves producing "synthetic" observations, thus enabling analysis in the same manner as the real data observed by telescope facilities.
The symposium spanned six sessions over two days, with 50-60 participants attending each session. The program consisted of 8 invited talks, 17 contributed talks, and 28 posters, discussing observations, simulations and synthetic observations of star formation across the Galactic plane, in the Galactic Centre, and out into extragalactic systems. The symposium presented lots of new ideas, and elicited some fascinating discussion and the work presented here will form a major part of the star formation research, on all scales, both observationally and theoretically over the next few years.
David Eden, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
Simon Glover, University of Heidelberg, DE EWASS symposium 3 website
Astrophysical jets and outflows - synergies from compact objects to protostars
EWASS 2017 symposium 4
Astrophysical jets are produced by a wealth of objects, from stars being born, to stars collapsing and dying, to various flavours of dead stars. The collimated outflows in each scenario are launched due to the process of accretion, whether it be onto a young stellar object, from a magnetized hot flow around a black hole, or during a stellar collapse and the production of a gamma-ray burst. After the birth of jets, they accelerate, escape the gravitational field of their birthplace, before injecting energy into and drive chemistry in their surroundings. In planet forming proto-stellar disks the outflowing material might even affect planet migration. Thus there are a multitude of processes taking place at various stages and on different scales. ▸ Read more
Many of the identified processes are important in jets from compact objects, proto-stellar sources and other astrophysical jets. The evidence that common physics exists across the power scale of relativistic and non-relativistic jets was the reason to bring together different jet communities, from accreting black holes (supermassive, stellar-mass and intermediate-mass), to neutron stars, white dwarfs, tidal disruption events, ultra-luminous X-ray sources, evolved stars, and young stellar objects.
We felt that the largest communication gap was between the proto-stellar and compact object communities at large, therefore the organization effort was focused to balance the contributions of these two fields. Each contributor was given the (sometime difficult) task to communicate the problem, strategy, approach and results to a related, but different community. This was the essential starting point for an exchange of new ideas, methods and collaborations between two fields that now are recognized to be complementary for our understanding of jets and outflow physics.
Possibly the single most important limitation of the session was some missing dedicated time for discussion formally scheduled in the program. This was due to three main factors that played against the allocation of time for anything other than contributions: 1) the limited number of slots; 2) the large number of excellent contributors submitted for a talk and who could give a significant contribution; 3) most importantly, for each subject, the need to accommodate presentations from two different communities, effectively doubling the time required to cover a single physical subject. The topic of evolved stars had very few representatives present, where there are significant overlaps as well. We hope that future meetings will include more participants from that community to further collaboration and synergy.
However, our goal was to begin a structured series of events: start to bring together the communities and start to formally communicate. We are now working towards follow-ups with online discussions and further meetings with similar or different formats, e.g. subject and discussion oriented. In this view, and according to the feedback of the attendants, the session was a great success that we hope will give a new dimension to the study of astrophysical jets.
Magnus V. Persson, Chalmers University of Technology, SE (SOC co-chair)
Dave Russel, NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE (SOC co-chair)
Simone Migliari, ESAC (SOC co-chair)
Odysseus Donates, University of Vienna, AT
Lars E. Kristensen, University Copenhagen, DK
Linda Podio, Arcetri Observatory, IT
Simone Antoniucci, Rome Observatory, IT EWASS symposium 4 website
Properties and evolution of accreting compact objects in low and high mass X-ray binaries
EWASS 2017 symposium 10
EWASS symposium 10 on "Properties and evolution of accreting compact objects in low and high mass X-ray binaries" provided a unique opportunity to bring together specialists from very different fields, working both on high and low mass X-ray binaries. Although emissions across the entire electromagnetic spectrum from these systems are often produced by different physical processes, both type of binaries share a number of theoretical and observational challenges that benefit from the exchanges of information and expertize between different international scientific collaborations. ▸ Read more
The discussions that took part during the symposium favored the flourishing of new collaborations and boosted ideas to advance in different aspects concerning the formation and evolution of Galactic and extra-Galactic binaries. The EWASS provides the perfect environment for this kind of events, thanks to the numerous participation and the friendly atmosphere.
The three PIs of the Symposium S10 are grateful to all participants, for having joined the event and their active participation during the discussions.
Enrico Bozzo, University of Geneva, CH
Andrea Sanna, Università di Cagliari, IT
Agnieszka Janiuk, Polish Academy of Sciences, PL EWASS symposium 10 website
A multi-messenger look at the origin of gamma-ray bursts
EWASS 2017 symposium 11
We are currently living in the era of multi-messenger astronomy. We have gamma-ray and X-ray observations from active space missions such as Fermi, Swift, MAXI, INTEGRAL, Konus, AGILE, NuSTAR, CALET, Lomonosov and AstroSAT; and afterglow observations in radio (e.g. MeerKAT), optical and X-ray. Future facilities like CTA, Athena and SVOM are coming up. It is now more important than ever to connect our theoretical understanding of gamma-ray burst (GRB) physics to these multi-wavelength observations. Furthermore, after the discovery of astrophysical neutrinos by IceCube and that of gravitational wave signals by LIGO, the role that GRBs may play in these new fields of astrophysics is now being actively investigated. ▸ Read more
EWASS symposium 11 celebrated not only the 50th anniversary of discovering GRBs but the 20th anniversary of discovering afterglows. These explosions are amongst the most energetic events ever detected, but their origin is still a mystery today. There are several open questions regarding the origin of GRBs: What are the prospective progenitor systems? What powers the central engines? How does the circumstellar environment influence the afterglows? What are the connections between various supernova classes and GRBs? How strong is their dependence on the host galaxies' metallicities? And if it is still difficult to reach a conclusion on these questions, what are the directions we shall proceed in the future?
Astroinformatics: from big data to understanding the Universe at large
EWASS 2017 symposium 14
Astroinformatics is a full fledged new discipline emerging from the need of extracting new knowledge from complex all-sky surveys and responding to the ever-increasing astronomical data-deluge. It is a multi-disciplinary science combining the fields of astronomy, computer science and advanced mathematics and statistics. It combines machine learning, modern database technologies, and complex data models to reveal correlation, cluster unlabeled data, identify outliers etc. and in general extend our knowledge about the Universe in terms of classes of objects as well as individual objects. ▸ Read more
A standalone series of Astroinformatics meetings has been held annually world-wide starting at Caltech in 2010. The latest one was in Sorrento in 2016, and the next one will be in Cape Town in Nov 2017. The dedicated session at EWASS 2017, held in Prague, was the first opportunity to present Astroinformatics to the wider astronomical audience who were not already sold on the concept.
The energetic contributions in each session covered a vast landscape of Astroinformatics and related disciplines. On day one, the first block of the symposium was dedicated to the methods of combination large data sets. It started with two lectures about Virtual observatory, its infrastructure and technology as well as its practical impact on scientific analysis of vast amount of complex multi-spectral data resources. The second block was focused on classical machine learning, namely supervised methods used to identify and classify various known types of celestial objects using their morphology, shape of light curves or color indices. The third block was dedicated to modern deep learning and unsupervised methods with a particular focus on different flavors of artificial neural networks. The fourth block presented on the second day of the symposium was focused on challenges of Big Data problems (e.g. how to make spatial queries in a table with trillion rows of objects coordinates or to the exciting plans for LSST data processing). The fifth, more philosophically oriented block was concentrated on the process of knowledge discovery in big data sets and on the advanced statistical analysis. Finally, the last block of the S14 symposium introduced different projects in astroinformatics and various software tools.
The presentations are available at this website and will be soon available on Zenodo repository as an electronic proceedings.
The great interest shown in the symposium by the astronomy community at large has highlighted the importance of Astroinformatics. Its application to all aspects of astronomy leading to enhanced understanding of the entire field is well appreciated.
Petr Škoda, Czech Academy of Sciences, Ondřejov, CZ (chair)
Emille Ishida, Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, FR
Rafael de Souza, University Sao Paulo, BR
Ashish Mahabal, Caltech Center for Data-Driven Discovery, Pasadena, USA EWASS symposium 14 website
Scientific synergies enabled by SKA, CTA and Athena
EWASS 2017 symposium 15
EWASS symposium 15 was focused on the scientific synergies enabled by SKA, CTA and Athena, the unprecedented capabilities of which will deliver transformational science during the next several decades. The three observatories will cover distinct portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (the radio band for SKA, the X-ray band for Athena and the GeV-TeV band for CTA) and the talks in the symposium showed that the fully-fledged multi-messenger astronomy enabled by SKA, CTA and Athena will lead to address outstanding scientific questions, which are still largely unanswered. ▸ Read more
The symposium was organized in six sessions, each of which devoted to the potentialities enabled by one of the three facilities in combination with data provided by other major instruments operating across the electromagnetic spectrum, and in the realm of other messengers (e.g. gravitational wave and neutrino astronomy).
The third session looked at the "The extremes of the electromagnetic Universe", showing the wealth of scientific results which are expected from the combination of the data produced by the best facilities ever built at the two extremes of the electromagnetic spectrum: SKA and CTA. After the review about this subject proposed in the second block, during the third session three talks reported on the promising perspectives of the investigation of supernova remnants, molecular clouds and radio-loud AGN. The expected significant improvements in the study of ultra-high-energy particles were also described, as well as the possibility of unveiling the so-far hidden population of off-axis gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and of bursts produced by the most massive population III stars.
The opening session of the second day of the symposium ("Breakthrough radio astronomy: exploring the unknown") concentrated on the extremely promising possibilities offered by complementing the SKA observations with data taken at other radio frequencies. First, the combination of SKA and ALMA was shown to be uniquely powerful for the study of many different types of astronomical phenomena, ranging from the Sun to the epoch of reionization. The unique synergies with the very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) facilities were then highlighted. The last three contributions of the session were devoted to the exciting perspectives of the investigation of the still mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and of the search for SETI signals.
The fifth block of talks touched the subject "Transformational pictures of the Universe", describing some of the science, which will stem from the synergies of SKA with optical and/or infrared facilities. The first talk reported on the unprecedented results, which will be produced by the study of the optical and infrared counterparts to the thousands of radio pulsars (and/or fast transients), which will be discovered by SKA. The promising results offered by the study of the population of the galaxies during the cosmic reionization era, and of the later galaxy evolution, were also described later in this slot of talks.
Finally, the last session enlarged the view beyond the electromagnetic spectrum, anticipating the "Fully deployed multi-messenger astronomy" which will be warranted by the combination of data obtained by the detectors of gravitational waves, neutrinos and cosmic particle with those provided by SKA and the other facilities. The first talk zoomed in on the extraordinary progress, which is anticipated in compact object astrophysics and experimental tests of Einstein's theory as a result of the combination of SKA data with the observations of GW detectors. The synergies of SKA with two world-class cosmic ray and neutrino detectors (IceCube and Pierre Auger) were then discussed. Finally the focus moved to describe the perspectives for large developments in multi-wavelength machine learning algorithms, big data handling, and interoperability among the major astrophysical facilities.
New board appointed and prizes awarded by the ESPD
News from the European Solar Physics Division
The European Solar Physics Division (ESPD) is a division of the European Physical Society that represents and provides a forum for scientists interested in the physics of the Sun. The ESPD is affiliated with EAS through the Joint Solar Physics Group. The ESPD has recently had its business meeting where a new board was elected and prizes were awarded. ▸ Read more
The following ESPD prizes have been awarded for the first time.
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