Press Releases 2006

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eso0613-en-ie — Photo Release
Cosmic Spider is Good Mother
7 April 2006: Hanging above the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) - one of our closest galaxies - in what some describe as a frightening sight, the Tarantula nebula is worth looking at in detail. Also designated 30 Doradus or NGC 2070, the nebula owes its name to the arrangement of its brightest patches of nebulosity that somewhat resemble the legs of a spider. This name, of the biggest spiders on Earth, is also very fitting in view of the gigantic proportions of the celestial nebula - it measures nearly 1,000 light years across!
eso0612-en-ie — Organisation Release
Bringing Science out of the Lab into the Classroom
28 March 2006: Science is moving more rapidly than ever; one groundbreaking discovery chases the next at an incredible speed. School teachers have trouble keeping up with the pace, and many pupils call science classes "boring". Today, Europe's major research organisations launch Science in School, the first international, multidisciplinary journal for innovative science teaching, to provide a platform for communication between science teachers, practising scientists and other stakeholders in science education.
eso0611-en-ie — Science Release
The Sun's New Exotic Neighbour
22 March 2006: Using ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, an international team of researchers [1] discovered a brown dwarf belonging to the 24th closest stellar system to the Sun. Brown dwarfs are intermediate objects that are neither stars nor planets. This object is the third closest brown dwarf to the Earth yet discovered, and one of the coolest, having a temperature of about 750 degrees Celsius. It orbits a very small star at about 4.5 times the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun. Its mass is estimated to be somewhere between 9 and 65 times the mass of Jupiter.
eso0610-en-ie — Science Release
The Cosmic Dance of Distant Galaxies
15 March 2006: Studying several tens of distant galaxies, an international team of astronomers found that galaxies had the same amount of dark matter relative to stars 6 billion years ago as they have now. If confirmed, this suggests a much closer interplay between dark and normal matter than previously believed. The scientists also found that as many as 4 out of 10 galaxies are out of balance. These results shed a new light on how galaxies form and evolve since the Universe was only half its current age.
eso0609-en-ie — Science Release
Cepheids and their 'Cocoons'
28 February 2006: Using ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Cerro Paranal, Chile, and the CHARA Interferometer at Mount Wilson, California, a team of French and North American astronomers has discovered envelopes around three Cepheids, including the Pole star. This is the first time that matter is found surrounding members of this important class of rare and very luminous stars whose luminosity varies in a very regular way. Cepheids play a crucial role in cosmology, being one of the first "steps" on the cosmic distance ladder.
eso0608-en-ie — Photo Release
A Blast To Chase
23 February 2006: Possibly similar to what our own Milky Way looks like, Messier 100 [1] is a grand design spiral galaxy that presents an intricate structure, with a bright core and two prominent arms, showing numerous young and hot massive stars as well as extremely hot knots (HII regions). Two smaller arms are also seen starting from the inner part and reaching towards the larger spiral arms.
eso0607-en-ie — Organisation Release
Man-made Star Shines in the Southern Sky
23 February 2006: Scientists celebrate another major milestone at Cerro Paranal in Chile, home of ESO's Very Large Telescope array. Thanks to their dedicated efforts, they were able to create the first artificial star in the Southern Hemisphere, allowing astronomers to study the Universe in the finest detail. This artificial laser guide star makes it possible to apply adaptive optics systems, that counteract the blurring effect of the atmosphere, almost anywhere in the sky.
eso0606-en-ie — Science Release
The Invisible Galaxies That Could Not Hide
15 February 2006: Astronomers, using the unique capabilities offered by the high-resolution spectrograph UVES on ESO's Very Large Telescope, have found a metal-rich hydrogen cloud in the distant universe. The result may help to solve the missing metal problem and provides insight on how galaxies form.
eso0605-en-ie — Organisation Release
Spain to Join ESO
13 February 2006: Today, during a ceremony in Madrid, an agreement was signed by the Spanish Minister of Education and Science, Mrs. María Jesús San Segundo, and the ESO Director General, Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, affirming their commitment to securing Spanish membership of ESO.
eso0604-en-ie — Photo Release
How to Steal a Million Stars?
7 February 2006: Based on observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope, a team of Italian astronomers reports [1] that the stellar cluster Messier 12 must have lost to our Milky Way galaxy close to one million low-mass stars.
eso0603-en-ie — Science Release
It's Far, It's Small, It's Cool: It's an Icy Exoplanet!
25 January 2006: Using a network of telescopes scattered across the globe, including the Danish 1.54m telescope at ESO La Silla (Chile), astronomers [1] discovered a new extrasolar planet significantly more Earth-like than any other planet found so far. The planet, which is only about 5 times as massive as the Earth, circles its parent star in about 10 years. It is the least massive exoplanet around an ordinary star detected so far and also the coolest [2]. The planet most certainly has a rocky/icy surface. Its discovery marks a groundbreaking result in the search for planets that support life.
eso0602-en-ie — Science Release
Measuring the Size of a Small, Frost World
4 January 2006: Observing a very rare occultation of a star by Pluto's satellite Charon from three different sites, including Paranal, home of the VLT, astronomers were able to determine with great accuracy the radius and density of the satellite to the farthest planet. The density, 1.71 that of water, is indicative of an icy body with about slightly more than half of rocks. The observations also put strong constraints on the existence of an atmosphere around Charon.
eso0601-en-ie — Organisation Release
ESO PR Highlights in 2005
3 January 2006: 2005 was the year of Physics. It was thus also in part the year of astronomy and this is clearly illustrated by the numerous breakthroughs that were achieved, in particular using ESO's telescopes.
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