17
Jan 13

Light from the Darkness

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1303


Lupus 3  Dark Cloud.
Image credits: ESO/F. Comeron

An evocative new image from ESO shows a dark cloud where new stars are forming, along with a cluster of brilliant stars that have already emerged from their dusty stellar nursery. The new picture was taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile and is the best image ever taken in visible light of this little-known object. (read more)

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6
Dec 12

Galaxy-wide Echoes from the Past

Source:ESO Science Release eso1249


The green bean galaxy J224.
Image credits:CFHT/ESO/M. Schirmer

A new galaxy class has been identified using observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Gemini South telescope, and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). Nicknamed “green bean galaxies” because of their unusual appearance, these galaxies glow in the intense light emitted from the surroundings of monster black holes and are amongst the rarest objects in the Universe. (read more)

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22
Nov 12

Dwarf Planet Makemake Lacks Atmosphere

Source: ESO Science Release eso1246


Artist’s impression of the surface of the dwarf planet Makemake .
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)

Astronomers have used three telescopes at ESO’s observatories in Chile to observe the dwarf planet Makemake as it drifted in front of a distant star and blocked its light. The new observations have allowed them to check for the first time whether Makemake is surrounded by an atmosphere. This chilly world has an orbit lying in the outer Solar System and was expected to have an atmosphere like Pluto (eso0908), but this is now shown not to be the case. The scientists also measured Makemake’s density for the first time. The new results are to be published in the 22 November issue of the journal Nature. (read more)

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14
Nov 12

Lost in Space: Rogue Planet Spotted?

Source: ESO Science Release 1245


Artist’s impression of the free-floating planet CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9.
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/R. Saito/VVV Consortium

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope have identified a body that is very probably a planet wandering through space without a parent star. This is the most exciting free-floating planet candidate so far and the closest such object to the Solar System at a distance of about 100 light-years. Its comparative proximity, and the absence of a bright star very close to it, has allowed the team to study its atmosphere in great detail. This object also gives astronomers a preview of the exoplanets that future instruments aim to image around stars other than the Sun. (read more)

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1
Nov 12

Ancient and Modern Stars?

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1243


The globular star cluster NGC 6362.
Image credit: ESO.

This colourful view of the globular star cluster NGC 6362 was captured by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This new picture, along with a new image of the central region from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, provide the best view of this little-known cluster ever obtained. Globular clusters are mainly composed of tens of thousands of very ancient stars, but they also contain some stars that look suspiciously young. (read more)

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18
Oct 12

Planet Found in Nearest Star System to Earth

Source: ESO Science Release eso1241


Artist’s impression of the planet around Alpha Centauri B.
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger.

European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012. (read more)

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12
Oct 12

Surprising Spiral Structure Spotted by ALMA

Source:ESO Science Release eso1239


Curious spiral spotted by ALMA around red giant star R Sculptoris.
Image credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a totally unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This is the first time that such a structure, along with an outer spherical shell, has been found around a red giant star. It is also the first time that astronomers could get full three-dimensional information about such a spiral. The strange shape was probably created by a hidden companion star orbiting the red giant. This work is one of the first ALMA early science results to be published and it appears in the journal Nature this week. (read more)

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16
Sep 12

A New View of The Pencil Nebula

Source: ESO


The Pencil Nebula, a strangely shaped leftover from a vast explosion.
Image credits: ESO.

The Pencil Nebula is pictured in a new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This peculiar cloud of glowing gas is part of a huge ring of wreckage left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11 000 years ago. This detailed view was produced by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope. (read more)

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5
Sep 12

A Cluster with a Secret

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1235


Globular star cluster Messier 4.
Image credits:ESO. Acknowledgement: ESO Imaging Survey.

A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the spectacular globular star cluster Messier 4. This ball of tens of thousands of ancient stars is one of the closest and most studied of the globular clusters and recent work has revealed that one of its stars has strange and unexpected properties, apparently possessing the secret of eternal youth. (read more)

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2
Sep 12

Sweet Result from ALMA — Building blocks of life found around young star

Source: ESO Science Release eso1234


Artist's impression of sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star.
Image credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Calçada (ESO) & NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team.

A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star.(read more)

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2
Aug 12

A Blue Whirlpool in The River — Tranquil galaxy home to violent events

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1231


VLT image of the spiral galaxy NGC 1187.
Image credit: ESO

A new image taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 1187. This impressive spiral lies about 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus (The River). NGC 1187 has hosted two supernova explosions during the last thirty years, the latest one in 2007. This picture of the galaxy is the most detailed ever taken.(read more)

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18
Jul 12

APEX takes part in sharpest observation ever

Source: ESO Organisation Release eso1229


Artist’s impression of the quasar 3C 279.
Image credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

An international team of astronomers has observed the heart of a distant quasar with unprecedented sharpness, two million times finer than human vision. The observations, made by connecting the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope to two others on different continents for the first time, is a crucial step towards the dramatic scientific goal of the “Event Horizon Telescope” project: imaging the supermassive black holes at the centre of our own galaxy and others. (read more)

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12
Jul 12

Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First Time

Source: ESO Science Release eso1228


Dark galaxies spotted for the first time.
Image credits: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and S. Cantalupo (UCSC)

For the first time, dark galaxies — an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now — may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, an international team thinks they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar.(read more)

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30
Jun 12

New Way of Probing Exoplanet Atmospheres — Tau Boötis b revealed

Source: ESO Science Release eso1227


Artist’s impression of the exoplanet Tau Boötis b.
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada

For the first time a clever new technique has allowed astronomers to study the atmosphere of an exoplanet in detail — even though it does not pass in front of its parent star. An international team has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to directly catch the faint glow from the planet Tau Boötis b. They have studied the planet’s atmosphere and measured its orbit and mass precisely for the first time — in the process solving a 15-year old problem. Surprisingly, the team also finds that the planet’s atmosphere seems to be cooler higher up, the opposite of what was expected. The results were published in the 28 June 2012 issue of the journal Nature. (read more)

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20
Jun 12

A Close Look at NGC 6357

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1226


Close-up view of NGC 6357. Image credit: ESO/VLT.

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has taken the most detailed image so far of a spectacular part of the stellar nursery called NGC 6357. The view shows many hot young stars, glowing clouds of gas and weird dust formations sculpted by ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds. (read more)

 

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13
Jun 12

ESO To Build World’s Biggest Eye On The Sky

Source: ESO Organisation Release eso1225


Artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) .
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada.

ESO is about to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting in Garching today, the ESO Council approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of four so-called ad referendum votes. The E-ELT will start operations early in the next decade.(learn more)

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16
May 12

A Deeper Look at Centaurus A

Source: ESO Photo Release eso122


The peculiar galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128).
Image credits: ESO.

The strange galaxy Centaurus A is pictured in a new image from the European Southern Observatory. With a total exposure time of more than 50 hours this is probably the deepest view of this peculiar and spectacular object ever created. The image was produced by the Wide Field Imager of the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.(learn more)

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28
Apr 12

A Cluster Within a Cluster

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1218


The star cluster NGC 6604 and its surroundings.
Image credits: ESO

The star cluster NGC 6604 is shown in this new image taken by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is often overlooked in favour of its more prominent neighbour, the Eagle Nebula (also known as Messier 16), that lies a mere wingspan away. But the framing of this picture, which places the star cluster in a landscape of surrounding gas and dust clouds, shows what a beautiful object NGC 6604 is in its own right. (read more)

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12
Apr 12

ALMA Reveals Workings of Nearby Planetary System

Source: ESO Science Release eso1216


The dust ring around Formalhaut.
Image credits: Millimeter/submillimeter: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).
Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

A new observatory still under construction has given astronomers a major breakthrough in understanding a nearby planetary system and provided valuable clues about how such systems form and evolve. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that planets orbiting the star Fomalhaut must be much smaller than originally thought. This is the first published science result from ALMA in its first period of open observations for astronomers worldwide.(read more)

 

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28
Mar 12

Many Billions of Rocky Planets in the Habitable Zones around Red Dwarfs in the Milky Way

Source: ESO Science Release eso1214


Artist’s impression of sunset on the super-Earth world Gliese 667 Cc.
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada.

A new result from ESO’s HARPS planet finder shows that rocky planets not much bigger than Earth are very common in the habitable zones around faint red stars. The international team estimates that there are tens of billions of such planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and probably about one hundred in the Sun’s immediate neighbourhood. This is the first direct measurement of the frequency of super-Earths around red dwarfs, which account for 80% of the stars in the Milky Way.(read more)

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