Press Releases

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eso0846 — Science Release
Unprecedented 16-Year Long Study Tracks Stars Orbiting Milky Way Black Hole
10 December 2008: In a 16-year long study, using several of ESO's flagship telescopes, a team of German astronomers has produced the most detailed view ever of the surroundings of the monster lurking at our Galaxy's heart — a supermassive black hole. The research has unravelled the hidden secrets of this tumultuous region by mapping the orbits of almost 30 stars, a five-fold increase over previous studies. One of the stars has now completed a full orbit around the black hole.
eso0845 — Science Release
Students Discover Unique Planet
4 December 2008: Three undergraduate students, from Leiden University in the Netherlands, have discovered an extrasolar planet. The extraordinary find, which turned up during their research project, is about five times as massive as Jupiter. This is also the first planet discovered orbiting a fast-rotating hot star.
eso0844 — Photo Release
Omega Centauri
2 December 2008: Omega Centauri is one of the finest jewels of the southern hemisphere night sky, as ESO's latest stunning image beautifully illustrates. Containing millions of stars, this globular cluster is located roughly 17 000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus.
eso0843 — Organisation Release
Europe Unveils 20-Year Plan for Brilliant Future in Astronomy
25 November 2008: Astronomy is enjoying a golden age of fundamental, exciting discoveries. Europe is at the forefront, thanks to 50 years of progress in cooperation. To remain ahead over the next two to three decades, Europe must prioritise and coordinate the investment of its financial and human resources even more closely. The ASTRONET network, backed by the entire European scientific community, supported by the European Commission, and coordinated by the CNRS, today presents its Roadmap for a brilliant future for European astronomy. ESO's European Extremely Large Telescope is ranked as one of two top-priority large ground-based projects.
eso0842 — Science Release
Beta Pictoris planet finally imaged?
21 November 2008: A team of French astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have discovered an object located very close to the star Beta Pictoris, and which apparently lies inside its disc. With a projected distance from the star of only 8 times the Earth-Sun distance, this object is most likely the giant planet suspected from the peculiar shape of the disc and the previously observed infall of comets onto the star. It would then be the first image of a planet that is as close to its host star as Saturn is to the Sun.
eso0841 — Science Release
Astronomers detect matter torn apart by black hole
18 November 2008: Astronomers have used two different telescopes simultaneously to study the violent flares from the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. They have detected outbursts from this region, known as Sagittarius A*, which reveal material being stretched out as it orbits in the intense gravity close to the central black hole.
eso0840 — Photo Release
APEX reveals glowing stellar nurseries
11 November 2008: Illustrating the power of submillimetre-wavelength astronomy, an APEX image reveals how an expanding bubble of ionised gas about ten light-years across is causing the surrounding material to collapse into dense clumps that are the birthplaces of new stars. Submillimetre light is the key to revealing some of the coldest material in the Universe, such as these cold, dense clouds.
eso0839 — Photo Release
A Pool of Distant Galaxies – the deepest ultraviolet image of the Universe yet
7 November 2008: Anyone who has wondered what it might be like to dive into a pool of millions of distant galaxies of different shapes and colours, will enjoy the latest image released by ESO. Obtained in part with the Very Large Telescope, the image is the deepest ground-based U-band image of the Universe ever obtained. It contains more than 27 million pixels and is the result of 55 hours of observations with the VIMOS instrument.
eso0838 — Organisation Release
Blockbuster starring ESO Paranal opens tomorrow
30 October 2008: The 22nd James Bond adventure is due for release tomorrow, 31 October 2008, in the UK and a week later in the rest of the world. A key location in the movie is the Residencia, the hotel for astronomers and staff at ESO's Paranal Observatory.
eso0837 — Photo Release
A claret-coloured cloud with a massive heart
21 October 2008: A new image released by ESO shows the amazing intricacies of a vast stellar nursery, which goes by the name of Gum 29. In the centre, a small cluster of stars — called Westerlund 2 — has been found to be the home of one of the most massive double star systems known to astronomers.
eso0836 — Science Release
VLT and Rossi XTE satellite probe violently variable black holes
15 October 2008: Unique observations of the flickering light from the surroundings of two black holes provide new insights into the colossal energy that flows at their hearts. By mapping out how well the variations in visible light match those in X-rays on very short timescales, astronomers have shown that magnetic fields must play a crucial role in the way black holes swallow matter.
eso0835 — Science Release
Astronomers get best view yet of infant stars at feeding time
10 October 2008: Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer to conduct the first high resolution survey that combines spectroscopy and interferometry on intermediate-mass infant stars. They obtained a very precise view of the processes acting in the discs that feed stars as they form. These mechanisms include material infalling onto the star as well as gas being ejected, probably as a wind from the disc.
eso0834 — Photo Release
Born from the Wind
8 October 2008: Telescopes on the ground and in space have teamed up to compose a colourful image that offers a fresh look at the history of the star-studded region NGC 346. This new, ethereal portrait, in which different wavelengths of light swirl together like watercolours, reveals new information about how stars form.
eso0833 — Photo Release
Sharpening Up Jupiter
2 October 2008: A record two-hour observation of Jupiter using a superior technique to remove atmospheric blur has produced the sharpest whole-planet picture ever taken from the ground. The series of 265 snapshots obtained with the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) prototype instrument mounted on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) reveal changes in Jupiter's smog-like haze, probably in response to a planet-wide upheaval more than a year ago.
eso0832 — Science Release
The Wild, Hidden Cousin of SN 1987A
25 September 2008: Over a decade after it exploded, one of the nearest supernovae in the last 25 years has been identified. This result was made possible by combining data from the vast online archives from many of the world’s premier telescopes.
eso0831 — Science Release
The Hibernating Stellar Magnet
23 September 2008: Astronomers have discovered a most bizarre celestial object that emitted 40 visible-light flashes before disappearing again. It is most likely to be a missing link in the family of neutron stars, the first case of an object with an amazingly powerful magnetic field that showed some brief, strong visible-light activity.
eso0830 — Science Release
Pinning down the Milky Way's spin
19 September 2008: New, very precise measurements have shown that the rotation of the Milky Way is simpler than previously thought. A remarkable result from the most successful ESO instrument HARPS, shows that a much debated, apparent 'fall' of neighbourhood Cepheid stars towards our Sun stems from an intrinsic property of the Cepheids themselves.
eso0829 — Organisation Release
Future Looks Bright for Interferometry
18 September 2008: The PRIMA instrument [1] of the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) recently saw "first light" at its new home atop Cerro Paranal in Chile. When fully operational, PRIMA will boost the capabilities of the VLTI to see sources much fainter than any previous interferometers, and enable astrometric precision unmatched by any other existing astronomical facility. PRIMA will be a unique tool for the detection of exoplanets.
eso0828 — Science Release
The Double Firing Burst
10 September 2008: Astronomers from around the world combined data from ground- and space-based telescopes to paint a detailed portrait of the brightest explosion ever seen. The observations reveal that the jets of the gamma-ray burst called GRB 080319B were aimed almost directly at the Earth.
eso0827 — Science Release
Mind the Gap
8 September 2008: Astronomers have been able to study planet-forming discs around young Sun-like stars in unsurpassed detail, clearly revealing the motion and distribution of the gas in the inner parts of the disc. This result, which possibly implies the presence of giant planets, was made possible by the combination of a very clever method enabled by ESO's Very Large Telescope.