Press Releases

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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.
eso9728 — Organisation Release
First VLT Mirror Cell and 8.2-m Dummy Mirror Arrive at Paranal
17 November 1997: After a long journey from Europe, the first Very Large Telescope mirror cell (VLT M1 cell) and a concrete 8.2-m dummy mirror were unloaded in the Port of Antofagasta on October 31, 1997. From here, they were transported by special trucks to the Paranal Observatory.
eso9727 — Organisation Release
Work Progresses at the Paranal Observatory
22 October 1997: During the past month, there has been much action in many different areas at the ESO Paranal Observatory. Work has continued on the assembly of various components of the telescope structures and on the surface of the summit platform, as well as in connection with the maintenance and storage facilities near the base camp at the foot of the mountain.
eso9726 — Photo Release
ESO Observations Show Persistent Dust Jets at Comet Hale-Bopp
8 October 1997: After having passed behind the Sun (as seen from the Earth), Comet Hale-Bopp is now again well visible to observers in the southern sky. Although this famous object is now three times farther away than when it passed its closest point to the Sun (the perihelion) on April 1, 1997, it is still quite bright, especially when compared to other comets that have been observed at the same distance. Its magnitude is now around 5, i.e. when seen in a dark sky it is just visible with the unaided eye. However, it is seen better through moderate-size binoculars and is of course still more interesting when observed with a large, professional telescope.
eso9725 — Organisation Release
Installation of Motors Begins on VLT Unit Telescope 1
22 September 1997: With the completed assembly of the heavy parts that form the mechanical structure of the first (UT1) of the four large VLT Unit Telescopes, the integration of the motor that will move the telescope around the (horizontal) altitude axis is now about to start.
eso9724 — Organisation Release
Improving Access to the Paranal Observatory
10 September 1997: In this continuing series of views from the ESO Paranal Observatory, most have been related to developments around the VLT telescopes and their enclosures. While this assembly work is very important and now rapidly progresses towards the crucial moment of First Light , other activities are also going on which will ensure the proper functioning of the small, isolated community at Paranal, in the middle of the extreme Atacama desert.
eso9723 — Organisation Release
Top Ring in Place on VLT Unit Telescope 1
29 August 1997: Here are some recent photos from the installation of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Northern Chile.
eso9722 — Organisation Release
VLT Mirror Coating Plant Arrives at Paranal
12 August 1997: One more important step within the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) project has just been successfully accomplished. After a journey of more than 12,000 km, the enormous coating plant for the 8.2-m VLT Zerodur mirrors has just arrived safely at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama desert. Here it is now being installed in the Mirror Maintenance Building (MMB) , a large and complex structure that has been constructed next to the base camp, at the foot of the Paranal mountain.
eso9721 — Organisation Release
First 8.2-m Telescope at Paranal Takes Shape
8 August 1997: The installation of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama desert continues at good pace. As the moment of first light of the first 8.2-metre telescope is getting closer, the assembly of the enormous, 400-ton mechanical structure proceeds according to schedule.
eso9720 — Science Release
First Look at a Major Transition Period in the Early Universe
1 August 1997: Observations of the bright southern quasar HE 2347-4342 with telescopes at the ESO La Silla Observatory and with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) have provided a group of European astronomers [1] with an exceptional glimpse into an early, still unexplored transition period of the Universe.
eso9719 — Science Release
Hints About Dark, Light-Bending Matter in the Distant Universe
25 July 1997: About 20 cases of gravitationally lensed (GL) quasars are known. This special physical effect, also known as a cosmic mirage, occurs when the rays of light of a distant quasar on their way to us pass near a massive object, for instance a galaxy. As a result, two or more images of the same quasar will be seen near each other. This phenomenon is described in more detail in the Appendix. A new study by a group of three European astronomers, headed by Frederic Courbin ( Institut d'Astrophysique, Universite de Liege, Belgium, and Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France) [1], has led to the discovery of the object responsible for the double images of a remote quasar in the gravitational lens HE 1104-1805 . The investigation is based on infrared observations at the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile and the `lensing system' turns out to be a distant, massive galaxy. Nevertheless, the geometry of the object is unusual and an additional gravitational lens of `dark' (invisible) matter may possibly be involved.
eso9718 — Science Release
Discovery of a Satellite Around a Near-Earth Asteroid
22 July 1997: In the course of the major observational programme of asteroids by the Institute of Planetary Exploration of the German Aerospace Research Establishment (DLR) [1] in Berlin, two of the staff astronomers, Stefano Mottola and Gerhard Hahn, have discovered a small satellite (moon) orbiting the asteroid (3671) Dionysus.
eso9717 — Organisation Release
Aerial View of the ESO Headquarters in Garching
17 July 1997: ESO Press Photo eso9717a shows a recent aerial view of the modernistic building of the ESO Headquarters in the town of Garching, some 15 kilometres north of Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Germany.
eso9716 — Organisation Release
New Views of the Paranal Observatory
17 July 1997: The following seven photos are part of an extensive series that was obtained in mid-June 1997. The first three are aerial views which demonstrate the good progress of the extensive work at the top of the mountain where the four large enclosures for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes, the interferometric tunnel system and the control building are now steadily approaching completion.
eso9715 — Organisation Release
ISAAC and SOFI: New Infrared Instruments for ESO Telescopes
17 June 1997: On this photo, two major astronomical instruments equipped with state of the art infrared array detectors are seen undergoing final integration and testing at the Assembly Laboratory at the ESO Headquarters (Garching, Germany) prior to being shipped to the ESO observatories in Chile. It was obtained a few days after a visit to this laboratory by the ESO Council at the time of its June 1997 meeting in Garching.
eso9714 — Photo Release
New Detailed Image of the Disk around Beta Pictoris
11 June 1997: This new and very detailed image of the famous circumstellar disk around the southern star Beta Pictoris was obtained with the ESO ADONIS adaptive optics system at the 3.6-m telescope and the Observatoire de Grenoble coronograph . It shows (in false colours) the scattered light at wavelength 1.25 micron (J band) and is one of the best images of this interesting feature obtained so far.
eso9713 — Organisation Release
ESO in Chile - An Eye on Telescopes and People
2 June 1997: Hans Hermann Heyer, professional ESO photographer at the Education and Public Relations Department in Garching, has prepared a remarkable exhibition of 45 photographs he obtained during two visits to ESO-Chile in 1996. It is on display at the ESO Headquarters until July 10, 1997.
eso9712 — Organisation Release
Recent Photos from the Paranal Observatory Illustrate Rapid VLT Progress
2 June 1997: The installation of the ESO Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama desert is proceeding rapidly. The moment of first light of the first 8.2-metre telescope is getting closer and activities in Paranal and at the ESO Headquarters in Garching are becoming ever more intense.
eso9711 — Organisation Release
The Giant Coating Plant for the ESO VLT
16 May 1997: In August 1995, the European Southern Observatory signed a contract with Linde A.G. (Germany), for the supply of the coating unit for the giant mirrors of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). Together with the main subcontractors, BOC coating technology (UK) , and Deggendorfer Werft (Germany), Linde has meanwhile completed the development, construction and pre-commissioning of the coating unit in Deggendorf, a town located at the Danube River, some 150 km northeast of Munich.
eso9710 — Organisation Release
Scientific Papers in the Paranal Time Capsule
12 May 1997: ESO Messenger no. 87 (March 1997) contains information (on Page 5) about the content of the Time Capsule, deposited by President Frei of the Republic of Chile on December 4, 1996, in the wall of VLT Enclosure no. 1. This capsule, an aluminium cylinder of 15 cm diameter and 45 centimeter long, was filled with nitrogen gas and sealed hermetically. A commemorative plaque was fixed in front of the cavity. In addition to the various items listed below, the capsule also contains a list of contents etched on a metal plate which will survive virtually indefinitely in this environment, while it cannot be excluded that the papers may deteriorate with time.