Press Releases 2005

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eso0505-en-au — Photo Release
Another Look at an Enigmatic New World
24 February 2005: On January 14, 2005, the ESA Huygens probe arrived at Saturn's largest satellite, Titan. After a faultless descent through the dense atmosphere, it touched down on the icy surface of this strange world from where it continued to transmit precious data back to the Earth.
eso0504-en-au — Organisation Release
ESO's Two Observatories Merge
21 February 2005: On February 1, 2005, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has merged its two observatories, La Silla and Paranal, into one. This move will help Europe's prime organisation for astronomy to better manage its many and diverse projects by deploying available resources more efficiently where and when they are needed. The merged observatory will be known as the La Silla Paranal Observatory.
eso0503-en-au — Science Release
Weighing the Smallest Stars
19 January 2005: Thanks to the powerful new high-contrast camera installed at the Very Large Telescope, photos have been obtained of a low-mass companion very close to a star. This has allowed astronomers to measure directly the mass of a young, very low mass object for the first time. The object, more than 100 times fainter than its host star, is still 93 times as massive as Jupiter. And it appears to be almost twice as heavy as theory predicts it to be. This discovery therefore suggests that, due to errors in the models, astronomers may have overestimated the number of young "brown dwarfs" and "free floating" extrasolar planets.
eso0502-en-au — Science Release
Rebuilding Spiral Galaxies
13 January 2005: Most present-day large galaxies are spirals, presenting a disc surrounding a central bulge. Famous examples are our own Milky Way or the Andromeda Galaxy. When and how did these spiral galaxies form? Why do a great majority of them present a massive central bulge? An international team of astronomers [1] presents new convincing answers to these fundamental questions. For this, they rely on an extensive dataset of observations of galaxies taken with several space- and ground-based telescopes. In particular, they used over a two-year period, several instruments on ESO's Very Large Telescope. Among others, their observations reveal that roughly half of the present-day stars were formed in the period between 8,000 million and 4,000 million years ago, mostly in episodic burst of intense star formation occurring in Luminous Infrared Galaxies. From this and other evidence, the astronomers devised an innovative scenario, dubbed the "spiral rebuilding". They claim that most present-day spiral galaxies are the results of one or several merger events. If confirmed, this new scenario could revolutionise the way astronomers think galaxies formed.
eso0501-en-au — Organisation Release
ESO PR Highlights in 2004
12 January 2005: Last year proved again a wonderful one for astronomy in general and for ESO in particular. Certainly the most important astronomical event for a large public was the unique Transit of Venus: on June 8, 2004, Venus - the Earth's sister planet - passed in front of the Sun. This rare event - the last one occurred in 1882 - attracted the attention of millions of people all over the world.
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