Press Releases

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eso0925 — Photo Release
New portrait of Omega Nebula's glistening watercolours
7 July 2009: The Omega Nebula, a stellar nursery where infant stars illuminate and sculpt a vast pastel fantasy of dust and gas, is revealed in all its glory by a new ESO image.
eso0924 — Photo Release
Astronomer's new guide to the galaxy: largest map of cold dust revealed
1 July 2009: Astronomers have unveiled an unprecedented new atlas of the inner regions of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, peppered with thousands of previously undiscovered dense knots of cold cosmic dust — the potential birthplaces of new stars. Made using observations from the APEX telescope in Chile, this survey is the largest map of cold dust so far, and will prove an invaluable map for observations made with the forthcoming ALMA telescope, as well as the recently launched ESA Herschel space telescope.
eso0923 — Science Release
Milky Way's super-efficient particle accelerators caught in the act
25 June 2009: Thanks to a unique "ballistic study" that combines data from ESO's Very Large Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have now solved a long-standing mystery of the Milky Way’s particle accelerators. They show in a paper published today on Science Express that cosmic rays from our galaxy are very efficiently accelerated in the remnants of exploded stars.
eso0922 — Organisation Release
World's fastest and most sensitive astronomical camera
18 June 2009: The next generation of instruments for ground-based telescopes took a leap forward with the development of a new ultra-fast camera that can take 1500 finely exposed images per second even when observing extremely faint objects. The first 240x240 pixel images with the world's fastest high precision faint light camera were obtained through a collaborative effort between ESO and three French laboratories from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers (CNRS/INSU). Cameras such as this are key components of the next generation of adaptive optics instruments of Europe's ground-based astronomy flagship facility, the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT).
eso0921 — Science Release
Stellar family in crowded, violent neighbourhood proves to be surprisingly normal
4 June 2009: Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have obtained one of the sharpest views ever of the Arches Cluster — an extraordinary dense cluster of young stars near the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. Despite the extreme conditions astronomers were surprised to find the same proportions of low- and high-mass young stars in the cluster as are found in more tranquil locations in our Milky Way.
eso0920 — Organisation Release
Most Efficient Spectrograph to Shoot the Southern Skies
25 May 2009: ESO’s Very Large Telescope — Europe’s flagship facility for ground-based astronomy — has been equipped with the first of its second generation instruments: X-shooter. It can record the entire spectrum of a celestial object in one shot — from the ultraviolet to the near-infrared — with high sensitivity. This unique new instrument will be particularly useful for the study of distant exploding objects called gamma-ray bursts.
eso0919 — Science Release
Giant Galaxy Messier 87 finally sized up
20 May 2009: Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have succeeded in measuring the size of giant galaxy Messier 87 and were surprised to find that its outer parts have been stripped away by still unknown effects. The galaxy also appears to be on a collision course with another giant galaxy in this very dynamic cluster.
eso0918 — Organisation Release
First two ALMA antennas successfully linked
6 May 2009: Scientists and engineers working on the world's largest ground-based astronomical project, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), have achieved another milestone — the successful linking of two ALMA astronomical antennas, synchronised with a precision of one millionth of a millionth of a second — to observe the planet Mars. ALMA is under construction by an international partnership in the Chilean Andes.
eso0917 — Science Release
The Most Distant Object Yet Discovered in the Universe
28 April 2009: ESO's Very Large Telescope has shown that a faint gamma-ray burst detected last Thursday is the signature of the explosion of the earliest, most distant known object in the Universe (a redshift of 8.2). The explosion apparently took place more than 13 billion years ago, only about 600 million years after the Big Bang.
eso0916 — Science Release
Solar wind tans young asteroids
22 April 2009: A new study published in Nature this week reveals that asteroid surfaces age and redden much faster than previously thought — in less than a million years, the blink of an eye for an asteroid. This study has finally confirmed that the solar wind is the most likely cause of very rapid space weathering in asteroids. This fundamental result will help astronomers relate the appearance of an asteroid to its actual history and identify any after effects of a catastrophic impact with another asteroid.
eso0915 — Science Release
Lightest exoplanet yet discovered
21 April 2009: Well-known exoplanet researcher Michel Mayor today announced the discovery of the lightest exoplanet found so far. The planet, “e”, in the famous system Gliese 581, is only about twice the mass of our Earth. The team also refined the orbit of the planet Gliese 581 d, first discovered in 2007, placing it well within the habitable zone, where liquid water oceans could exist. These amazing discoveries are the outcome of more than four years of observations using the most successful low-mass-exoplanet hunter in the world, the HARPS spectrograph attached to the 3.6-metre ESO telescope at La Silla, Chile.
eso0914 — Photo Release
Two Galaxies for a Unique Event
4 April 2009: To celebrate the 100 Hours of Astronomy, ESO is sharing two stunning images of unusual galaxies, both belonging to the Sculptor group of galaxies. The images, obtained at two of ESO’s observatories at La Silla and Paranal in Chile, illustrate the beauty of astronomy.
eso0913 — Organisation Release
ESO takes the public on an astronomical journey “Around the World in 80 Telescopes”
30 March 2009: A live 24-hour free public video webcast, “Around the World in 80 Telescopes”, will take place from 3 April 09:00 UT/GMT to 4 April 09:00 UT/GMT, chasing day and night around the globe to let viewers “visit” some of the most advanced astronomical telescopes on and off the planet. The webcast, organised by ESO for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), is the first time that so many large observatories have been linked together for a public event.
eso0912 — Organisation Release
ESO’s First Observatory Celebrates 40th Anniversary
24 March 2009: ESO’s La Silla Observatory, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, became the largest astronomical observatory of its time. It led Europe to the frontline of astronomical research, and is still one of the most scientifically productive in ground-based astronomy.
eso0911 — Photo Release
A Curious Pair of Galaxies
16 March 2009: The ESO Very Large Telescope has taken the best image ever of a strange and chaotic duo of interwoven galaxies. The images also contain some surprises — interlopers both far and near.
eso0910 — Science Release
Hubble and ESO’s VLT provide unique 3D views of remote galaxies
10 March 2009: Astronomers have obtained exceptional 3D views of distant galaxies, seen when the Universe was half its current age, by combining the twin strengths of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s acute eye, and the capacity of ESO’s Very Large Telescope to probe the motions of gas in tiny objects. By looking at this unique “history book” of our Universe, at an epoch when the Sun and the Earth did not yet exist, scientists hope to solve the puzzle of how galaxies formed in the remote past.
eso0909 — Organisation Release
New Inspiring Planetarium Show Introduces ALMA to the Public
9 March 2009: As part of a wide range of education and public outreach activities for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), ESO, together with the Association of French Language Planetariums (APLF), has produced a 30-minute planetarium show, In Search of our Cosmic Origins. It is centred on the global ground-based astronomical Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project and represents a unique chance for planetariums to be associated with the IYA2009.
eso0908 — Science Release
The lower atmosphere of Pluto revealed
2 March 2009: Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have gained valuable new insights about the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto. The scientists found unexpectedly large amounts of methane in the atmosphere, and also discovered that the atmosphere is hotter than the surface by about 40 degrees, although it still only reaches a frigid minus 180 degrees Celsius. These properties of Pluto's atmosphere may be due to the presence of pure methane patches or of a methane-rich layer covering the dwarf planet's surface.
eso0907 — Photo Release
Into the Eye of the Helix
25 February 2009: A deep new image of the magnificent Helix planetary nebula has been obtained using the Wide Field Imager at ESO's La Silla Observatory. The image shows a rich background of distant galaxies, usually not seen in other images of this object.
eso0906 — Organisation Release
Hundred metre virtual telescope captures unique detailed colour image
18 February 2009: A team of French astronomers has captured one of the sharpest colour images ever made. They observed the star T Leporis, which appears, on the sky, as small as a two-storey house on the Moon [1]. The image was taken with ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), emulating a virtual telescope about 100 metres across and reveals a spherical molecular shell around an aged star.