Press Releases 1995

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eso9534-en-ie — Organisation Release
ESO Council Visits First VLT Unit Telescope Structure in Milan
5 December 1995: As the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) rapidly takes on shape, Europe has just come one step closer to the realisation of its 556 million DEM astronomical showcase project.
eso9533-en-ie — Organisation Release
'Young Astronomers' Observe with ESO Telescopes
20 November 1995: Today, forty 16-18 year old students and their teachers are concluding a one-week, educational `working visit' to the ESO Headquarters in Garching (See ESO Press Release 14/95 of 8 November 1995). They are the winners of the Europe-wide contest `Europe Towards the Stars', organised by ESO with the support of the European Union, under the auspices of the Third European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture.
eso9532-en-ie — Science Release
A Surprise From the Pulsar in the Crab Nebula
20 November 1995: New observations of the spectrum of the rapidly spinning neutron star (the `pulsar') in the Crab Nebula have been carried out with the ESO 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) by a group of Italian astronomers [1]. Because of greatly improved spectral resolution which allows to register even very fine details in the pulsar's spectrum, they are able to determine for the first time with high accuracy the overall dependance of the emission on wavelength, i.e. the 'shape' of the spectrum. Quite unexpectedly, they also detect a hitherto unknown 100 A (10 nm) broad 'absorption dip', which can be securely attributed to the pulsar. These results open an exciting new window for the study of the extreme physical processes close to a pulsar.
eso9531-en-ie — Organisation Release
Enclosure for VLT Unit Telescope No. 1 in October 1995
13 November 1995: This photo shows the state of construction of the enclosure (`dome') for VLT Unit Telescope No. 1 on Paranal in late October 1995. It will be ready in 1996, and will later serve to protect the first 8.2-metre VLT telescope, for which the 'first light' is foreseen in late 1997/early 1998.
eso9530-en-ie — Organisation Release
First Giant Mirror for the ESO VLT Ready at REOSC
13 November 1995: In 1989, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European Organisation for Astronomy, awarded to REOSC, a subsidiary of the SFIM Group and located in Saint Pierre du Perray (France), a comprehensive contract for the polishing of four 8.2-metre diameter mirrors for the unit telescopes of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) project. These mirrors are the largest ever manufactured and polished. This contract comprises not only the polishing and high-precision optical testing of each giant mirror, but also the safe condition of transportation of the blanks which were manufactured by Schott Glaswerke in Mainz (Germany). In order to fulfill the contract, REOSC conceived, built and equipped a novel, high-tech workshop which would allow to polish and test the mirrors, each of which has a surface area of more than 50 square metres.
eso9529-en-ie — Organisation Release
A Passage to the Universe
8 November 1995: Following the very successful events of 1993 and 1994 [1], ESO again opens its doors for an 'educational adventure' next week. It takes place within the framework of the 'Third European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture', initiated and supported by the European Commission. On Tuesday, November 14, 1995, about forty 16-18 year old students and their teachers will converge towards Munich from all corners of Europe. They are the happy winners of a Europe-wide astronomy contest (`Europe Towards the Stars') that took place during the summer and early autumn. Their prize is a free, week-long stay at the Headquarters of the European Southern Observatory. During this time they will work with professional astronomers and get a hands-on experience within modern astronomy and astrophysics at one of the world's foremost international centres.
eso9528-en-ie — Science Release
A Galaxy is Born in a Swirling Hydrogen Cloud
23 October 1995: Astronomers from the University of Leiden have discovered an extremely distant, enormous gas cloud. It is probably a 'cocoon' from which one or more galaxies are in the process of being born, soon after the Big Bang. The observations also indicate that this gas cloud is slowly rotating, an entirely new result of great cosmological significance. The discovery was made with the ESO 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) at La Silla in Chile by a team consisting of Rob van Ojik, Huub Röttgering, Chris Carilli, George Miley and Malcolm Bremer from Leiden Observatory (The Netherlands) and Duccio Macchetto of the European Space Agency (ESA) stationed in Baltimore, U.S.A. Their extensive observations are reported in an article accepted for publication in the professional European journal `Astronomy and Astrophysics' and also as a chapter of van Ojik's Ph.D. thesis which is defended at the University of Leiden on October 25. This exciting result casts new light on one of the most important questions of modern cosmology, i.e. how lumpy galaxies were 'born' out of the extremely smooth fireball produced during the Big Bang.
eso9527-en-ie — Organisation Release
The Coming of Age of Adaptive Optics
23 October 1995: Adaptive Optics (AO) is the new "wonder-weapon" in ground-based astronomy. By means of advanced electro-optical devices at their telescopes, astronomers are now able to ``neutralize'' the image-smearing turbulence of the terrestrial atmosphere (seen by the unaided eye as the twinkling of stars) so that much sharper images can be obtained than before. In practice, this is done with computer-controlled, flexible mirrors which refocus the blurred images up to 100 times per second, i.e. at a rate that is faster than the changes in the atmospheric turbulence.
eso9526-en-ie — Science Release
ESO Astronomers Detect a Galaxy at the Edge of the Universe
15 September 1995: Four European astronomers [1] have taken advantage of the superb imaging quality of the ESO 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) at the La Silla observatory, to detect a galaxy at an extremely large distance. They conclude that its redshift [2] is z = 4.4; thus, this galaxy is by far the most remote ever detected. In fact, it has taken its light about 90 percent of the age of the Universe to reach us, and we now observe this early object as it appeared, only 1 - 2 billion years [3] after the Universe was created in the Big Bang. Still, the galaxy contains a considerable amount of elements that must have been produced in stars. This proves that stars were formed in normal galaxies, already before this very early epoch.
eso9525-en-ie — Organisation Release
VLT 8.2-m Unit Telescope no. 1 (as on September 7, 1995)
13 September 1995: The construction of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) advances rapidly, both in Europe and in Chile. These three photos show some of the main mechanical parts of the first 8.2-metre telescope, as they presented themselves in Milan (Italy) on Thursday, September 7, 1995. Two versions of these photos, one smaller and one larger and with better image resolution, are accessible for convenient transfer over the networks.
eso9524-en-ie — Science Release
A Spectrum of Comet Hale-Bopp
11 September 1995: Comet Hale-Bopp is known to possess a bright coma, despite its large distance from the Sun, almost 1,000 million km. Observations have shown that this coma consists of dust particles of different sizes that have been ejected from the comet's nucleus.
eso9523-en-ie — Photo Release
An "International" Comet Hale-Bopp Image
5 September 1995: A brand new image of comet Hale-Bopp, showing its famous jet that comes out of the nuclear region, has just been released.
eso9522-en-ie — Photo Release
The Spectacular Jet in Comet Hale-Bopp
1 September 1995: A new image of comet Hale-Bopp, taken at ESO's observatory in La Silla, sheds new light on the structure of this peculiar comet.
eso9521-en-ie — Photo Release
The Enormous Size of Comet Hale-Bopp
30 August 1995: This series of three photos of the unusual Comet Hale-Bopp demonstrates that the comet is much larger than thought so far. In fact, its nucleus is surrounded by a dust cloud that measures more than 2.5 million kilometres across. Note that because of the wide field they represent, each of the images is available in two sizes, the larger of which has considerably better resolution.
eso9520-en-ie — Science Release
New Distant Comet Headed for Bright Encounter
25 August 1995: A very unusual comet was discovered last month, on its way from the outer reaches of the solar system towards the Sun. Although it is still situated beyond the orbit of Jupiter, it is so bright that it can be observed in even small telescopes. It has been named `Hale-Bopp' after the discoverers and is already of great interest to cometary astronomers.
eso9519-en-ie — Photo Release
NTT Observations of Bright Comet 1995 Q1 (Bradfield)
25 August 1995: In the evening of August 17, 1995, famous comet hunter William Bradfield (Australia) discovered his seventeenth comet. He found the comet as a 6th magnitude object with a tail longer than 1 degree in the southern constellation Crater. Soon thereafter, observations were made at the ESO La Silla Observatory with various telescopes.
eso9518-en-ie — Organisation Release
Paranal on August 6, 1995
22 August 1995: This series of four photos was taken on Sunday, August 6, 1995, on the top of the Paranal mountain, where the world's largest telescope, the ESO 16-metre equivalent Very Large Telescope , is now being installed. The VLT will consist of four 8.2-metre unit telescopes which can also be coupled. Together with some smaller, moveable telescopes, to be installed later, the four large telescopes will form the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) , a unique instrument that will allow extremely sharp images to be obtained. The first 8.2-metre telescope is expected to be in place in late 1997/early 1998.
eso9517-en-ie — Organisation Release
ESO Helps Antofagasta after the Earthquake
22 August 1995: On Sunday, July 30, 1995, at 1:15 hrs, the Antofagasta region was struck by a strong earthquake, reaching 7.8 on the Richter scale. Three people died and more than 130 houses and buildings were damaged beyond repair. The port also suffered damage.
eso9516-en-ie — Photo Release
Last ESO Image of Bright Comet 1995 Q1 (Bradfield)
22 August 1995: Moving steadily closer to the Sun, Comet 1995 Q1 (Bradfield) can no longer be observed with the larger telescopes at La Silla. Nevertheless, Guido Pizarro succeeded in obtaining one more image with the ESO Schmidt telescope last evening (21 - 22 August 1995). At the moment of the 10 minute exposure, the comet was only 26 degrees from the Sun. This is most likely to be the last image of this comet that will be made from the ESO observatory.
eso9515-en-ie — Photo Release
The Swan Bands in Bright Comet 1995 Q1 (Bradfield)
21 August 1995: Observations of Comet 1995 Q1 (Bradfield) were again made at La Silla last night (20 - 21 August 1995), but were hindered by high winds and the fact that the comet is rapidly approaching the Sun.
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