Jan 16

The Milky Way’s Clean and Tidy Galactic Neighbour

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1603

eso1603aThe dwarf galaxy IC 1613.
Image credits: ESO.

Many galaxies are chock-full of dust, while others have occasional dark streaks of opaque cosmic soot swirling in amongst their gas and stars. However, the subject of this new image, snapped with the OmegaCAM camera on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, is unusual — the small galaxy, named IC 1613, is a veritable clean freak! IC 1613 contains very little cosmic dust, allowing astronomers to explore its contents with great clarity. This is not just a matter of appearances; the galaxy’s cleanliness is vital to our understanding of the Universe around us. (learn more)

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Jan 16

The Turbulent Birth of a Quasar

Source: ESO Science Release eso1602

eso1602aArtist's impression of the galaxy W2246-0526.
Image credits: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Dana Berry / SkyWorks; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

The most luminous galaxy known in the Universe — the quasar W2246-0526, seen when the Universe was less than 10% of its current age — is so turbulent that it is in the process of ejecting its entire supply of star-forming gas, according to new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).(learn more)

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Jan 16

Follow a Live Planet Hunt! — Pale Red Dot campaign launched

Source: ESO Outreach

Proxima_Centauri,_our_nearest_neighbourProxima Centauri as seen by Hubble.Image credits: ESA/Hubble.

Last Friday, ESO launched the Pale Red Dot project — a unique outreach campaign that will allow the general public to follow scientists from around the globe as they search for an Earth-like exoplanet around the closest star to us, Proxima Centauri. The observing campaign will run from January to April 2016 and will be accompanied by blog posts and social media updates. No one knows what the outcome will be. In the months following the observations, the scientists will analyse the data and submit the results to a peer-reviewed journal.

You can read more about the campaign here: https://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann16002/
Blog updates are available here: http://www.palereddot.org/
You can also follow the campaign on Twitter @Pale_Red_Dot and interact with scientists using the hashtag #PaleRedDot

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Jan 16

First Light For Future Black Hole Probe

Source: ESO Organisation Release eso1601

eso1601aGRAVITY discovers new double star in Orion Trapezium Cluster.
Image credits: ESO/GRAVITY consortium/NASA/ESA/M. McCaughrean.

Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed instrument GRAVITY at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight using all four Auxiliary Telescopes. The large team of European astronomers and engineers, led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, who designed and built GRAVITY, are thrilled with the performance. During these initial tests, the instrument has already achieved a number of notable firsts. This is the most powerful VLT Interferometer instrument yet installed. (learn more)

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