Press Releases

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eso1244-en-ie — Science Release
Cosmic Sprinklers Explained
8 November 2012: Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a pair of stars orbiting each other at the centre of one of the most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. The new result confirms a long-debated theory about what controls the spectacular and symmetric appearance of the material flung out into space. The results are published in the 9 November 2012 issue of the journal Science.
eso1243-en-ie — Photo Release
Stars Ancient and Modern?
31 October 2012: This colourful view of the globular star cluster NGC 6362 was captured by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This new picture, along with a new image of the central region from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, provide the best view of this little-known cluster ever obtained. Globular clusters are mainly composed of tens of thousands of very ancient stars, but they also contain some stars that look suspiciously young.
eso1242-en-ie — Photo Release
84 Million Stars and Counting
24 October 2012: Using a whopping nine-gigapixel image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, an international team of astronomers has created a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central parts of the Milky Way. This gigantic dataset contains more than ten times more stars than previous studies and is a major step forward for the understanding of our home galaxy. The image gives viewers an incredible, zoomable view of the central part of our galaxy. It is so large that, if printed with the resolution of a typical book, it would be 9 metres long and 7 metres tall.
eso1241-en-ie — Science Release
Planet Found in Nearest Star System to Earth
16 October 2012: European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.
eso1240-en-ie — Organisation Release
Gala Event Celebrates 50 Years of the European Southern Observatory
12 October 2012: On the evening of 11 October 2012 a gala event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Southern Observatory took place in the Kaisersaal of the Munich Residenz in Germany. To mark the occasion, senior representatives of the ESO Member States and its host nation Chile, among them seven Ministers and two Ambassadors, and of the observatory itself, signed a prototype mirror segment of the European Extremely Large Telescope.
eso1239-en-ie — Science Release
Surprising Spiral Structure Spotted by ALMA
10 October 2012: Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a totally unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This is the first time that such a structure, along with an outer spherical shell, has been found around a red giant star. It is also the first time that astronomers could get full three-dimensional information about such a spiral. The strange shape was probably created by a hidden companion star orbiting the red giant. This work is one of the first ALMA early science results to be published and it appears in the journal Nature this week.
eso1238-en-ie — Organisation Release
ESO Celebrates its 50th Anniversary
5 October 2012: Today, 5 October 2012, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is celebrating 50 years since the signing of its founding convention. Over the last half century ESO has become the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. This morning, for the first time ever, observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope were made of an object chosen by the public. The winner of an anniversary competition pointed the VLT towards the spectacular Thor’s Helmet Nebula and the observations were broadcast live over the internet. To mark the occasion ESO and its partners are organising many other activities in the 15 ESO Member States.
eso1237-en-ie — Photo Release
The Rich Colours of a Cosmic Seagull
26 September 2012: This new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory shows part of a stellar nursery nicknamed the Seagull Nebula. This cloud of gas, formally called Sharpless 2-292, seems to form the head of the seagull and glows brightly due to the energetic radiation from a very hot young star lurking at its heart. The detailed view was produced by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope.
eso1236-en-ie — Photo Release
A Celestial Witch’s Broom?
12 September 2012: The Pencil Nebula is pictured in a new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This peculiar cloud of glowing gas is part of a huge ring of wreckage left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11 000 years ago. This detailed view was produced by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope.
eso1235-en-ie — Photo Release
A Cluster with a Secret
5 September 2012: A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the spectacular globular star cluster Messier 4. This ball of tens of thousands of ancient stars is one of the closest and most studied of the globular clusters and recent work has revealed that one of its stars has strange and unexpected properties, apparently possessing the secret of eternal youth.
eso1234-en-ie — Science Release
Sweet Result from ALMA
29 August 2012: A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star.
eso1233-en-ie — Photo Release
Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe
15 August 2012: Just as René Magritte wrote “This is not a pipe” on his famous painting, this is also not a pipe. It is however a picture of part of a vast dark cloud of interstellar dust called the Pipe Nebula. This new and very detailed image of what is also known as Barnard 59 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. By coincidence this image is appearing on the 45th anniversary of the painter’s death.
eso1232-en-ie — Organisation Release
Choose What the VLT Observes & Tweet Your Way to the VLT!
8 August 2012: ESO builds and operates some of the most advanced telescopes on Earth including the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. These huge machines have made many fascinating discoveries about the Universe. Now, for the first time in its history, you can decide what to observe with the VLT, or even win an amazing trip to Chile’s breathtaking Atacama Desert to help make the observations yourself.
eso1231-en-ie — Photo Release
A Blue Whirlpool in The River
1 August 2012: A new image taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 1187. This impressive spiral lies about 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus (The River). NGC 1187 has hosted two supernova explosions during the last thirty years, the latest one in 2007. This picture of the galaxy is the most detailed ever taken.
eso1230-en-ie — Science Release
The Brightest Stars Don't Live Alone
26 July 2012: A new study using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has shown that most very bright high-mass stars, which drive the evolution of galaxies, do not live alone. Almost three quarters of these stars are found to have a close companion star, far more than previously thought. Surprisingly most of these pairs are also experiencing disruptive interactions, such as mass transfer from one star to the other, and about one third are even expected to ultimately merge to form a single star. The results are published in the 27 July 2012 issue of the journal Science.
eso1229-en-ie — Organisation Release
APEX takes part in sharpest observation ever
18 July 2012: An international team of astronomers has observed the heart of a distant quasar with unprecedented sharpness, two million times finer than human vision. The observations, made by connecting the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope [1] to two others on different continents for the first time, is a crucial step towards the dramatic scientific goal of the “Event Horizon Telescope” project [2]: imaging the supermassive black holes at the centre of our own galaxy and others.
eso1228-en-ie — Science Release
Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First Time
11 July 2012: For the first time, dark galaxies — an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now — may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, an international team thinks they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar.
eso1227-en-ie — Science Release
New Way of Probing Exoplanet Atmospheres
27 June 2012: For the first time a clever new technique has allowed astronomers to study the atmosphere of an exoplanet in detail — even though it does not pass in front of its parent star. An international team has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to directly catch the faint glow from the planet Tau Boötis b. They have studied the planet’s atmosphere and measured its orbit and mass precisely for the first time — in the process solving a 15-year old problem. Surprisingly, the team also finds that the planet’s atmosphere seems to be cooler higher up, the opposite of what was expected. The results will be published in the 28 June 2012 issue of the journal Nature.
eso1226-en-ie — Photo Release
VLT Takes a Close Look at NGC 6357
20 June 2012: ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has taken the most detailed image so far of a spectacular part of the stellar nursery called NGC 6357. The view shows many hot young stars, glowing clouds of gas and weird dust formations sculpted by ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds.
eso1225-en-ie — Organisation Release
ESO To Build World’s Biggest Eye On The Sky
11 June 2012: ESO is to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting in Garching today, the ESO Council approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of four so-called ad referendum [1] votes. The E-ELT will start operations early in the next decade.
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