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eso0645 — Science Release
Do Galaxies Follow Darwinian Evolution? — VLT Survey Provides New Insight into Formation of Galaxies
6 December 2006: Using VIMOS on ESO's Very Large Telescope, a team of French and Italian astronomers have shown the strong influence the environment exerts on the way galaxies form and evolve. The scientists have for the first time charted remote parts of the Universe, showing that the distribution of galaxies has considerably evolved with time, depending on the galaxies' immediate surroundings. This surprising discovery poses new challenges for theories of the formation and evolution of galaxies.
eso0644 — Science Release
30 November 2006: Astronomers are reporting remarkable new findings that shed light on a decade-long debate about one kind of supernovae, the explosions that mark a star's final demise: does the star die in a slow burn or with a fast bang? From their observations, the scientists find that the matter ejected by the explosion shows significant peripheral asymmetry but a nearly spherical interior, most likely implying that the explosion finally propagates at supersonic speed.
eso0643 — Photo Release
23 November 2006: The captivating appearance of this image of the starburst galaxy NGC 1313, taken with the FORS instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope, belies its inner turmoil. The dense clustering of bright stars and gas in its arms, a sign of an ongoing boom of star births, shows a mere glimpse of the rough times it has seen. Probing ever deeper into the heart of the galaxy, astronomers have revealed many enigmas that continue to defy our understanding.
eso0642 — Organisation Release
12 November 2006: ESO and the European Association for Astronomy Education are launching today the 2007 edition of 'Catch a Star!', their international astronomy competition for school students. Now in its fifth year, the competition offers students the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to ESO's flagship observatory in Chile, as well as many other prizes. Students are invited to 'become astronomers' and embark on a journey to explore the Universe.
eso0641 — Science Release
7 November 2006: A large survey, made with ESO's VLT, has shed light on our Galaxy's ancestry. After determining the chemical composition of over 2000 stars in four of the nearest dwarf galaxies to our own, astronomers have demonstrated fundamental differences in their make-up, casting doubt on the theory that these diminutive galaxies could ever have formed the building blocks of our Milky Way Galaxy.
eso0640 — Organisation Release
22 October 2006: In its first Roadmap, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) choose the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), for which ESO is presently developing a Reference Design, as one of the large scale projects to be conducted in astronomy, and the only one in optical astronomy. The aim of the ELT project is to build before the end of the next decade an optical/near-infrared telescope with a diameter in the 30-60m range.
eso0639 — Science Release
The Star, the Dwarf and the Planet — First Directly Imaged Brown Dwarf Companion to an Exoplanet Host Star
19 October 2006: Astronomers have detected a new faint companion to the star HD 3651, already known to host a planet. This companion, a brown dwarf, is the faintest known companion of an exoplanet host star imaged directly and one of the faintest T dwarfs detected in the Solar neighbourhood so far. The detection yields important information on the conditions under which planets form.
eso0638 — Science Release
4 October 2006: Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the extrasolar planet status of two of the 16 candidates discovered by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. One of the two confirmed exoplanets has a mass a little below 10 Jupiter masses, while the other is less than 3.8 Jupiter masses.
eso0637 — Science Release
Stellar Vampires Unmasked — VLT Presents Evidence for Mass Transfer as Origin of some Blue Straggler Stars
2 October 2006: Astronomers have found possible proofs of stellar vampirism in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, they found that some hot, bright, and apparently young stars in the cluster present less carbon and oxygen than the majority of their sisters. This indicates that these few stars likely formed by taking their material from another star.
eso0636 — Science Release
Watching How Planets Form — Anatomy of a Planet-Forming Disc around a Star More Massive than the Sun
28 September 2006: With the VISIR instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have mapped the disc around a star more massive than the Sun. The very extended and flared disc most likely contains enough gas and dust to spawn planets. It appears as a precursor of debris discs such as the one around Vega-like stars and thus provides the rare opportunity to witness the conditions prevailing prior to or during planet formation.
eso0635 — Science Release
To Be or Not to Be: Is It All About Spinning? — VLTI Discerns How Matter Behaves in Disc Around a Be Star
20 September 2006: Thanks to the unique possibilities offered by ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), astronomers have solved a 140-year-old mystery concerning active hot stars. They indeed show that the star Alpha Arae is spinning almost on the verge of breaking and that its disc rotates the same way planets do around the Sun.
eso0634 — Science Release
eso0633 — Science Release
31 August 2006: Astronomers, using ESO's Very Large Telescope, have for the first time made the link between an X-ray flash and a supernova. Such flashes are the little siblings of gamma-ray bursts (GRB) and this discovery suggests the existence of a population of events less luminous than 'classical' GRBs, but possibly much more numerous.
eso0632 — Organisation Release
Catherine Cesarsky elected President of the International Astronomical Union and Ian Corbett elected Assistant General Secretary
24 August 2006: The General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), meeting in Prague (Czech Republic), has elected the ESO Director General, Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, as President for a three-year period (2006-2009). The IAU is a body of distinguished professional astronomers, founded in 1919 to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. It now has almost 10 000 individual members drawn from all continents. Dr. Cesarsky is the first woman to receive this high distinction. At the same General Assembly, Dr. Ian Corbett, ESO's Deputy Director General, was elected Assistant General Secretary for 2006-2009, with the expectation of becoming General Secretary in 2009-2012.
eso0631 — Science Release
Far Away Galaxy Under The Microscope — SINFONI Discovers Rapidly Forming, Large Proto-Disc Galaxies Three Billion Years After The Big Bang
17 August 2006: An international group of astronomers have discovered large disc galaxies akin to our Milky Way that must have formed on a rapid time scale, only 3 billion years after the Big Bang. In one of these systems, the combination of adaptive optics techniques with the new SINFONI spectrograph on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) resulted in a record-breaking resolution of a mere 0.15 arcsecond, giving an unprecedented detailed view of the anatomy of such a distant proto-disc galaxy.
eso0630 — Science Release
10 August 2006: Analysing a set of stars in a globular cluster with ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the solution to a critical cosmological and stellar riddle. Until now, an embarrassing question was why the abundance of lithium produced in the Big Bang is a factor 2 to 3 times higher than the value measured in the atmospheres of old stars. The answer, the researchers say, lies in the fact that the abundances of elements measured in a star's atmosphere decrease with time.
eso0629 — Science Release
4 August 2006: The cast of exoplanets has an extraordinary new member. Using ESO's telescopes, astronomers have discovered an approximately seven-Jupiter-mass companion to an object that is itself only twice as hefty. Both objects have masses similar to those of extra-solar giant planets, but they are not in orbit around a star - instead they appear to circle each other. The existence of such a double system puts strong constraints on formation theories of free-floating planetary mass objects.
eso0628 — Science Release
3 August 2006: Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered a rather unusual system, in which two planet-size stars, of different colours, orbit each other. One is a rather hot white dwarf, weighing a little bit less than half as much as the Sun. The other is a much cooler, 55 Jupiter-masses brown dwarf.
eso0627 — Photo Release
26 July 2006: If life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you will get - the Universe, with its immensely large variety of galaxies, must be a real candy store! ESO's Very Large Telescope has taken images of three different 'Island Universes' , each amazing in their own way, whose curious shapes testify of a troubled past, and for one, of a foreseeable doomed future.
eso0626 — Science Release
21 July 2006: Today, British astronomers are releasing the first data from the largest and most sensitive survey of the heavens in infrared light to the ESO user community. The UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS) has completed the first of seven years of data collection, studying objects that are too faint to see at visible wavelengths, such as very distant or very cool objects. New data on young galaxies is already challenging current thinking on galaxy formation, revealing galaxies that are massive at a much earlier stage of development than expected. These first science results already show how powerful the full survey will be at finding rare objects that hold vital clues to how stars and galaxies in our Universe formed.
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