Foto van de Week 2012

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potw1213-nl-be — Foto van de Week
Was je maar hier
26 maart 2012: De Franse fotograaf Serge Brunier – één van ESO’s Photo Ambassadors – heeft dit naadloze 360-gradenpanorama van de Chajnantor-hoogvlakte gemaakt. Op deze hoogvlakte, gelegen in de Atacama-woestijn, wordt momenteel de Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) gebouwd. Het panorama heeft de antennes van ALMA ietwat vervormd, maar het geeft wel een goede indruk hoe het moet zijn om middenin dit indrukwekkende, nieuwe observatorium te staan. Het 360-gradenaanzicht laat eveneens de totale isolatie van de Chajnantor-hoogvlakte zien. Op een hoogte van 5000 meter lijkt de omgeving total leeg te zijn, op enkele bergpieken en heuveltoppen na. Hoewel het realiseren van zo’n ambitieus telescoopproject in deze afgelegen en onherbergzame omgeving een uitdaging vormt, is dit hooggelegen oord perfect voor submillimeter-astronomie. Waterdamp in de atmosfeer absorbeert dit type straling, maar de lucht op hoge locaties als Chajnantor is veel droger.  Op 30 september 2011 werden ALMA’s eerste wetenschappelijke waarnemingen gedaan. Hiervoor werd een gedeeltelijke ...
potw1212 — Foto van de Week
The VLT goes lion hunting
19 maart 2012: The Very Large Telescope has captured another member of the Leo I group of galaxies, in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). The galaxy Messier 95 stands boldly face-on, offering an ideal view of its spiral structure. The spiral arms form an almost perfect circle around the galactic centre before they spread out, creating a mane-like effect of which any lion would be proud. Another, perhaps even more striking, feature of Messier 95 is its blazing golden core. It contains a nuclear star-forming ring, almost 2000 light-years across, where a large proportion of the galaxy’s star formation takes place. This phenomenon occurs mostly in barred spiral galaxies such as Messier 95 and our home, the Milky Way. In the Leo I group, Messier 95 is outshone by its brother Messier 96 (see potw1143). Messier 96 is in fact the brightest member of the group and — as “leader of the ...
potw1211-nl-be — Foto van de Week
Een poederlaagje sneeuw in de Atacama-woestijn
12 maart 2012: De koepels van ESO’s  Very Large Telescope baden in het zonlicht tijdens -alweer- een schitterende onbewolkte dag, op de top van de Cerro Paranal. Toch is er iets ongewoons aan deze foto. Een dun laagje poedersneeuw bedekt het woestijnlandschap en dat zie je hier niet elke dag. In tegendeel: de Atacama woestijn kent vrijwel geen neerslag. Er zijn verschillende factoren die bijdragen aan de droge condities van de Atacama-woestijn. Het Andes-gebergte blokkeert regen uit het oosten en het Chileense kustgebergte vanuit het westen. De koude aflandige Humboltstroom in de Grote Oceaan zorgt voor een tegengestelde koele luchtstroom waarin geen regenwolken tot ontwikkeling kunnen komen. Tot slot is er een hogedrukgebied boven het zuid-oosten van de Grote Oceaan dat in de Atacama voor een droog klimaat zorgt. Dat alles bij elkaar maakt dat deze regio wordt beschouwd als de droogste plek op aarde! De neerslaghoeveelheid in Paranal is gewoonlijk maar een ...
potw1210 — Foto van de Week
A Window to the Past — La Silla’s transformation through time
5 maart 2012: ESO turns fifty this year, and to celebrate this important anniversary, we are showing you glimpses into our history. Once a month during 2012, a special “Then and Now” comparison Picture of the Week shows how things have changed over the decades at the La Silla and Paranal observatory sites, the ESO offices in Santiago de Chile, and the Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. Here are two photographs of La Silla, taken in June 1968 and the present day from near the observatory’s water tanks, looking over the rest of the site. You can examine the changes with our mouseover image comparison. In the historical image, the provisional residential area is visible in the foreground. The three telescopes in the background are, from left to right, the Grand Prism Objectif (GPO, first light in 1968), the ESO 1-metre telescope (first light in 1966), and the ESO 1.5-metre telescope (first ...
potw1209 — Foto van de Week
Spinning into Action
27 februari 2012: The dynamism of ESO's Very Large Telescope in operation is wonderfully encapsulated in this unusual photograph, taken just after sunset at the moment Unit Telescope 1 starts work. An extended exposure time of 26 seconds has allowed ESO Photo Ambassador Gerhard Hüdepohl to record the movement of the dome, looking out through the opening from within, as the system swings into action. The rotating walls of the dome look like an ethereal swirl through which a slice of the Atacama Desert can be glimpsed, while the crisp dusk sky provides a splash of cool blue. The telescope structure, seen stationary in the centre of the image, houses a mirror 8.2 metres in diameter, designed to collect light from the far reaches of our Universe. The dome itself is also an engineering marvel, moving with extreme precision and allowing for careful temperature control lest warm air currents disrupt observations. Links ESO ...
potw1208 — Foto van de Week
Boldly going up Cerro Paranal
20 februari 2012: ESO’s Paranal Observatory facilities, such as the Residencia, give people who work at the site a welcome shelter from the surrounding inhospitable environment. In spite of that, they also offer interesting options for those who wish to enjoy the stark and silent beauty of the Atacama Desert. See this stunning panorama! Among these is the Star Track, a walking path which connects the Residencia with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) platform, on the 2600-metre summit of Cerro Paranal. Built in 2001, the Star Track covers about two kilometres in distance and a difference in height of 200 metres. The last part of the track snakes around the west side of the mountain, offering incomparable views. This 360 degree panoramic picture is centred facing north, so the right and left edges of the picture correspond to the south. To the north, the VLT control room and part of one of the ...
potw1207 — Foto van de Week
The Heart of the Milky Way, for Valentine’s Day
13 februari 2012: There is a lot to love about astronomy, and — in time for Valentine's Day — photographer Julien Girard offers a "heartfelt” example in this image. A bright pink symbol of love appears to float ethereally against the backdrop of the night sky over ESO's Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. Girard drew the heart in the air by shining a tiny flashlight keychain at the camera during a 25-second exposure with a tripod. The central region of the Milky Way appears in the middle of the heart, as the plane of our galaxy stretches across the image. The stars of the constellation of Corona Australis (The Southern Crown) form a glittering arc of jewels at the top of the heart's left lobe. The diffuse glow to the left of the heart's lowest point is zodiacal light, caused by the scattering of light from the Sun by dust particles in the ...
potw1206 — Foto van de Week
A Drive Through Time — How telescopes, and cars, have changed at La Silla
6 februari 2012: ESO turns fifty this year, and to celebrate this important anniversary, we are showing you glimpses into its history. Once a month during 2012, a special “Then and Now” comparison Picture of the Week shows how things have changed over the decades at the La Silla and Paranal observatory sites, the ESO offices in Santiago de Chile, and the Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. These two photographs show the La Silla Observatory in the late 1960s and the present day. You can also examine the differences between the two photographs with our mouseover comparison. The telescopes aren’t the only things that have changed; the cars in the photos also show the passing of time. The Volkswagen 1600 Variant in the first picture has been replaced in the second picture by a Suzuki 4WD. Nowadays, all ESO vehicles on La Silla are white, to improve visibility at night. Standing alone ...
potw1205 — Foto van de Week
A Shadow at Sunrise
30 januari 2012: In this photograph, taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Gianluca Lombardi, the Sun is rising and bathing the Chilean Atacama Desert in a familiar soft reddish glow. But this image, from 13 July 2011, has also captured something out of the ordinary: a dark shadow lurking on the horizon. Gianluca took this photograph from Cerro Armazones, looking west. Armazones is the future home of the world’s biggest eye on the sky: the upcoming European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The Sun rose behind Gianluca in just the right place to cast a daunting shadow of the 3060-metre-high mountain onto the Earth’s atmosphere in the distance. The shadow can be seen reaching over the vast desert landscape, and up across the horizon on the left side of the image. The bright summit visible on the right of the image is Cerro Paranal, at an altitude of 2600 metres. It is only 20 kilometres ...
potw1204 — Foto van de Week
Barred Spiral Galaxy Swirls in the Night Sky
23 januari 2012: This image shows the swirling shape of galaxy NGC 2217, in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). In the central region of the galaxy is a distinctive bar of stars within an oval ring. Further out, a set of tightly wound spiral arms almost form a circular ring around the galaxy. NGC 2217 is therefore classified as a barred spiral galaxy, and its circular appearance indicates that we see it nearly face-on. The outer spiral arms have a bluish colour, indicating the presence of hot, luminous, young stars, born out of clouds of interstellar gas. The central bulge and bar are yellower in appearance, due to the presence of older stars. Dark streaks can also be seen in places against the galaxy’s arms and central bulge, where lanes of cosmic dust block out some of the starlight. The majority of spiral galaxies in the local Universe — including ...
potw1203 — Foto van de Week
ALMA’s Grand Antennas
16 januari 2012: Workers on the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project stand next to three of the telescope’s antennas. This photograph gives a real sense of the scale of the giant dishes, whose 12-metre diameters are about seven times the average human height. When completed, ALMA will consist of 66 high-precision antennas, 54 of them with 12-metre dishes as seen in this image, and 12 more compact ones with diameters of 7 metres. The yellow 28-wheel transporter vehicle, which has to be powerful enough to carry the 100-tonne antennas, is built on a similarly giant scale. This photograph was taken at the 2900-metre-high ALMA Operations Support Facility in the foothills of the Chilean Andes, where the antennas are assembled and tested. On the left is one of the European ALMA antennas, pointing at the horizon. Behind it is one of the antennas provided to the project by Japan, while on the right, ...
potw1202 — Foto van de Week
Mapping Dark Matter in Galaxies
9 januari 2012: The picture is part of the COMBO-17 survey (Classifying Objects by Medium-Band Observations in 17 Filters), a project dedicated to recording detailed images of small patches of the sky through filters of 17 different colours. The area covered in this image is only about the size of the full Moon, but thousands of galaxies can be identified just within this small region. The image was taken with an exposure time of almost seven hours, which allowed the camera to capture the light from very faint and distant objects, as well as those that are closer to us. Galaxies with clear and regular structures, such as the spiral specimen viewed edge-on near the upper left corner, are only up to a few billion light-years away. The fainter, fuzzier objects are so far away that it has taken nine or ten billion years for their light to reach us. The COMBO-17 survey ...
potw1201 — Foto van de Week
A Glimpse into the Past — Then and Now at La Silla Observatory
3 januari 2012: ESO turns 50 this year, and to celebrate this important anniversary, we will be showing you glimpses into our history. Once a month throughout 2012, a special “then and now” comparison Picture of the Week will show how things have changed over the decades at the La Silla and Paranal observatory sites, the ESO offices in Santiago de Chile, and the Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. Our first stop on this journey through time is at La Silla, the first of ESO’s observatory sites. The historical image was taken in the late 1960s or early 1970s from the dome of the ESO 1.52-metre telescope, which had its first light in 1968. A second photograph, taken in the present day, shows how much the observatory has changed over the decades. You can examine the changes with our mouseover image comparison. In the historical image, we can see the ESO 1-metre telescope ...
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