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eso0708 — Science Release
SN1987A's Twentieth Anniversary
24 February 2007: The unique supernova SN 1987A has been a bonanza for astrophysicists. It provided several observational 'firsts,' like the detection of neutrinos from an exploding star, the observation of the progenitor star on archival photographic plates, the signatures of a non-spherical explosion, the direct observation of the radioactive elements produced during the blast, observation of the formation of dust in the supernova, as well as the detection of circumstellar and interstellar material.
eso9926 — Science Release
Southern Fireworks above ESO Telescopes
18 May 1999: International teams of astronomers are now busy working on new and exciting data obtained during the last week with telescopes at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Their object of study is the remnant of a mysterious cosmic explosion far out in space, first detected as a gigantic outburst of gamma rays on May 10. Gamma-Ray Bursters (GRBs) are brief flashes of very energetic radiation - they represent by far the most powerful type of explosion known in the Universe and their afterglow in optical light can be 10 million times brighter than the brightest supernovae . The May 10 event ranks among the brightest one hundred of the over 2500 GRB's detected in the last decade.
eso9847 — Science Release
A Strange Supernova with a Gamma-Ray Burst
15 October 1998: Several articles appear today in the scientific journal Nature about the strange supernova SN 1998bw that exploded earlier this year in the spiral galaxy ESO184-G82 . These studies indicate that this event was linked to a Gamma-Ray Burst and may thus provide new insights into this elusive phenomenon. Important observations of SN 1998bw have been made with several astronomical telescopes at the ESO La Silla Observatory by some of the co-authors of the Nature articles . The measurements at ESO will continue during the next years.
eso9806 — Photo Release
The Unusual Tails of Comet Hale-Bopp
30 January 1998: While famous Comet Hale-Bopp continues its long voyage towards the outer reaches of the solar system, observations proceed with telescopes in the southern hemisphere. These research programmes aim at a better understanding of the further development of this very active comet as it moves away from the Sun and slowly cools. Among the key questions are for instance: "When will it cease to display a dust tail?" and "Will the nucleus undergo outbursts during which much fresh material will be dispensed into space, as this has occasionally happened by other comets (e.g. Halley)?"
eso9729 — Science Release
Comet or Asteroid?
24 November 1997: When is a minor object in the solar system a comet? And when is it an asteroid? Until recently, there was little doubt. Any object that was found to display a tail or appeared diffuse was a comet of ice and dust grains, and any that didn't, was an asteroid of solid rock. Moreover, comets normally move in rather elongated orbits, while most asteroids follow near-circular orbits close to the main plane of the solar system in which the major planets move.
eso9637 — Photo Release
Strange Comet Discovered at ESO
16 September 1996: On August 7, 1996, Eric W. Elst (Royal Observatory, Uccle, Belgium) reported his discovery of a cometary image on mid-July exposures by Guido Pizarro with the 1.0-m ESO Schmidt telescope at the La Silla Observatory. Further ESO Schmidt plates were then obtained, and on August 19, with the help of orbital computations by Brian Marsden (IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, Cambridge, Mass., USA), Elst was able to identify the object on them. Even though the orbit (Period = 5.6 years; inclination = 1.4 deg; eccentricity = 0.17) is entirely characteristic of that of a main-belt minor planet with the implied long-term orbital stability, the continued presence of a tail seemingly confirms the object as a 'comet'. The object now carries the designation 'Comet P/1996 N2 (Elst-Pizarro)'.
eso9617 — Photo Release
Comet Hyakutake's Tail Structure
4 March 1996: This is the most detailed image so far obtained of the complex tail system of Comet Hyakutake. It was obtained with the ESO 1-m Schmidt telescope at La Silla on February 28.36 UT under good observing conditions by ESO night assistant Oscar Pizarro. The exposure lasted 60 min and was made on sensitized Kodak Pan 4415 film behind a GG385 filtre. This emulsion/filtre combination allows to record a broad spectral interval (3900-7000 A) whereby faint structures are better seen. However, detailed spectral information, by which the emitters may be identified, is lost for the same reason.
eso9607 — Science Release
ENACS Survey of Southern Galaxies Indicates Open Universe
9 February 1996: In the context of a comprehensive Key-Programme , carried out with telescopes at the ESO La Silla Observatory, a team of European astronomers . has recently obtained radial velocities for more than 5600 galaxies in about 100 rich clusters of galaxies. With this programme the amount of information about the motions of galaxies (the kinematical data) in such clusters has almost been doubled. This has allowed the team to study the distribution of the cluster masses, and also the dynamical state of clusters in new and interesting ways.
eso9521 — 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.
eso9516 — 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.
eso9512 — Science Release
Bright Comet 1995 Q1
18 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.
eso9110 — Science Release
A Ground-based Image of Minor Planet (951) Gaspra
29 October 1991: This is a ground-based photo of the first minor planet ever to be visited by a spacecraft. On October 29, 1991, the NASA spacecraft Galileo will pass minor planet no. 951 Gaspra on its way to Jupiter where it will arrive in December 1995. The distance from Gaspra to the Earth will be 410 million km at the time of the fly-by.
eso9101 — Science Release
Strange New Star Appears in the Southern Sky
17 January 1991: Acting on information received from Danish scientists working with an X-ray telescope on a Soviet satellite, astronomers at the ESO La SiIla observatory in Chile have discovered a strange new star in the southern constellation of Musca (the Fly). Preliminary observations with the ESO 3.5-m New Technology Telescope indicate that the object is a nova, most probably a small, very dense star in a binary system whose brightness in a dramatic event has suddenly increased about 1000 times. The available optical and X-ray observations point to a quite unusual object.
eso9010 — Science Release
No "Missing Mass" in Opaque Spiral Galaxies?
27 September 1990: A long-term astronomical study of spiral galaxies, initiated almost a decade ago at the European Southern Observatory, has recently produced intriguing results about the presence of cold matter in the Universe. They have a direct bearing on the so-called "missing mass" problem, one of the major unsolved riddles in astronomy.
eso9009 — Photo Release
Comet Levy Observed with the ESO Schmidt Telescope
25 September 1990: These impressive photos of Comet Levy (1990c), one of the brightest comets in recent years, were obtained with the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope at the ESO La Silla Observatory, on September 12 and 14, 1990. On these dates, the comet was 104 and 111 million kilometres from the Earth and 179 and 176 million kilometres from the Sun, respectively. It will reach its perihelion (the point in the orbit which is closest to the Sun) on October 24.
eso9007 — Photo Release
An Unusual View of Comet Austin
13 June 1990: Most of the dust that is ejected from a comet's nucleus (i.e. the "dirty snowball" at its centre) assembles in a thin “sheet'' near the orbital plane in which the comet moves around the sun. This sheet is very thin and is difficult to observe unless it is viewed directly from the side. On June 6, 1990, the Earth crossed the orbital plane of Comet Austin, allowing such a unique, side-on view.
eso9004 — Science Release
Comet Austin Develops a Long Tail
2 March 1990: Professional and amateur astronomers all over the world are excited about the prospects of seeing a really bright comet during the coming months. A newly discovered comet, known by the name of the amateur who first saw it, is now getting brighter each day. Observations are made almost every night at the ESO La Silla Observatory and elsewhere in order to follow the development of the comet and also to try to predict the maximum brightness which the comet will reach by mid-April this year.
eso8905 — Photo Release
First Picture of New Periodic Comet West-Hartley
30 May 1989: On May 11, 1989, Richard M. West at the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Fed.Rep.Germany, found a new comet in a photographic plate obtained on March 14 by night assistant Guido Pizarro with the 1-m Schmidt at the ESO La Silla Observatory. The blue-sensitive plate was exposed during 60 minutes and was centered in the southern constellation of Libra.