Cosmic fireworks over Paranal

In this incredible panorama, the night sky above ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) displays our cosmic neighbourhood in all its glory.

The VLT is located 2635 metres above sea level at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. This image illustrates the importance, and the benefits, of placing astronomical telescopes in such remote places! Anyone making the long journey to the site — including ESO Photo Ambassador Petr Horálek, who captured this scene — is rewarded with a truly spectacular view.

On the right, behind the line of four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes that together make up the VLT, the faint red and green hues of airglow can be seen illuminating the sky above the horizon. In addition zodiacal light is illuminating the sky as well. This diffuse light is caused by microscopic particles of light-scattering space dust in the plane of the Solar System.

While these features are beautiful, the most striking element of this image is undeniably the arc of the Milky Way. The bright arch of our home galaxy is peppered with dark filaments of dust, which absorb and obscure the light from the stars behind them, and bright patches where new stars are forming.

Just beneath the Milky Way lie two of our small galactic neighbours, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and beneath them sit two of the VLT’s smaller 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes.

Credit:

About the Image

Id:potw1717a
Type:Photographic
Release date:24 April 2017, 06:00
Size:22066 x 7323 px

About the Object

Name:Milky Way, Paranal
Type:Unspecified : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky : Milky Way
Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Telescope
Category:Paranal

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