Over the last decades, sky surveys performed with dedicated telescopes have become the main tool to investigate the nearby and far away universe. They have been providing new insights on the structure of our own galaxy as well as of the extragalactic objects at all scales, from giant galaxies to faint and compact stellar systems. Deep surveys allow to trace the mass assembly of galaxy clusters as well as to map the intra-cluster light components (globular clusters, dwarf galaxies and diffuse light). They also have opened the time domain leading to a new understanding of the transient phenomena in the universe.
Within this framework, the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) has a central role in surveying the universe in the optical wavelength range, being the ESO work-horse in the visible surveys domain. The telescope is an INAF (Italian National Institute for Astrophysics) facility operated by ESO in the Paranal observatory (Chile). It is a 2.6-m optical survey telescope, equipped with the wide field camera OmegaCAM, a 280 Megapixel mosaic of 32 scientific CCD chips covering the wavelength range from 0.3 to 1.0 micron with a field of view of one square degree and a pixel scale of 0.21 arcsec/pixel.
There are three ongoing ESO public surveys with the VST: the Kilo-Degree Survey (KIDS) to study dark matter halos and dark energy with weak lensing, galaxy evolution and to search galaxy clusters and high-redshift quasars; the ATLAS, with the primary science driver of determining the dark energy equation of state; the VST Photometric Halpha Survey of the Southern Galactic Plane (VPHAS+), which combines Halpha and broad-band u, g, r and i imaging to produce a catalogue of around 500 million objects, including greatly enhanced samples of rare evolved massive stars, Be stars, Herbig and T Tau stars, post-AGB stars, compact nebulae, white dwarfs and interacting binaries. At the same time a consistent part of the VST observing time is dedicated to several GTO projects, which are the benchmark for studies in both galactic and extragalactic fields of research.
The proposed conference aims at gathering astronomers who have worked with the VST data or wish to do it in future. It will be the occasion to highlight the contribution that all the projects using OmegaCam@VST are giving to several key science cases in the era of the large sky surveys, and the synergies with ongoing and upcoming ground based and space missions. It will also be the opportunity to discuss the future of the VST in the 2020s. In particular, the meeting will be focused on the following science themes:
- Forward look for the scientific use of the VST
- Synergies with other facilities and projects from ground and space
- Structure, formation and evolution of the Milky Way
- Stellar populations, star formation history and evolution of Local Group galaxies
- The variable and transient Universe
- Multi-messenger astronomy
- Structure and formation of large stellar haloes around galaxies in local and far universe
- Galaxies and cluster of galaxies in the last half of the Universe history
- Strong and weak lensing
- Constraints on the cosmological parameters
- Data handling / Pipelines