Press Releases

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eso8901 — Science Release
The "Southern Crab" Nebula
30 January 1989: Everybody knows the Crab Nebula - that famous object in the northern constellation Taurus (The Bull). It is the remnant of a supernova explosion in the year 1054 and has been studied with all available astronomical techniques. But this nebula does not really resemble the animal whose name it carries! Whoever attached this name to it by the middle of the last century must have had a well developed imagination. Now a "real crab'' has been discovered, a nebula in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), which from its appearance on recent pictures made with telescopes at the La Silla Observatory would seem to have more right to associate with crustaceans. To avoid confusion, astronomers now refer to the new object as the "Southern Crab".
eso8809 — Science Release
The Vanishing Star
8 December 1988: Reinhold Häfner, visiting astronomer at the ESO La Silla Observatory, got his life's surprise when the star on the screen in front of him suddenly was gone. All the other stars were still visible, but this particular one had simply vanished.
eso8808 — Organisation Release
ESO Places Contract for World's Largest Mirror Blanks
12 September 1988: After a period of intense negotiation, the European Southern Observatory and Schott Glaswerke, Mainz (F.R.Germany) reached agreement about the delivery of four giant mirror blanks for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) (ESO8716). The blanks will be made of Zerodur, a glass ceramic material. Each will have a diameter of 8.2 metres, an area of more than 50 square metres and a thickness of only 17.5 centimetres.
eso8807 — Science Release
Most Distant Star Ever Seen: Supernova Explodes 5 Billion Years Ago
9 September 1988: The most distant, individual star ever recorded was detected with a telescope at the ESO La Silla observatory on August 9, 1988. The object is an exploding star, a supernova, and is situated in an inconspicuous galaxy, itself a member of a distant cluster of galaxies. Additional observations indicate that the cluster, known as AC118, is at a distance of about 5 billion light-years (1 billion = 1000 million). Thus this supernova explosion occurred 5 billion years ago, or about the time when the Sun and the planets were born. Ever since then, the light emitted by this event has been travelling towards us, only arriving here now. It is the most distant supernova (ESO8802) observed so far.
eso8806 — Science Release
Discovery of a Cloverleaf Quasar in the Sky: A Lot of Hard Work - and a Little Bit of Luck
28 July 1988: Thanks to observations performed under near-perfect conditions at the La Silla observatory, it has been possible to show that the image of a distant quasar consists of no less than four components. Most appropriately, the object has now become known as the cloverleaf quasar. The peculiar image is due to the effect of "gravitational lensing", a phenomenon predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and explained at the end of this Press Release.
eso8805 — Organisation Release
Completion of the 3.58 m NTT Optical System Inaugurates New Era in Telescope Technology
14 July 1988: On the occasion of the successful completion of the optical figuring of the 3.58 m primary NTT mirror, the European Southern Observatory and Carl Zeiss, FRG, organize a Press Conference on Wednesday, July 13, 14.00 hours, at the Zeiss works in Oberkochen, near Stuttgart, FRG. There will be an opportunity to see the finished mirror on its computer controlled support system and information will be provided about the successful tests of the world's first, large active optics telescope.
eso8804 — Science Release
A Picture of Comet Halley at 1250 Million Kilometres
8 July 1988: A unique picture of Comet Halley has just been obtained by three astronomers with a telescope at the ESO La Silla observatory. An exposure time of almost 12 hours was necessary to show the structure of the famous comet in some detail at the present, very large distance of 1250 million kilometres.
eso8803 — Science Release
Stellar Super Heavyweight Champion Disqualified
19 May 1988: The most massive stars may be less heavy than thought before. Recent observations with two telescopes at the ESO La Silla observatory have now shown that a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud, long believed to be one of the most massive in existence, is in fact multiple and consists of a very compact cluster of hot, young stars. This discovery may have important implications for the theory of stellar birth and the determination of distances in the Universe.
eso8802 — Science Release
Light Echoes from Supernova 1987A in the LMC: Snapshots of Interstellar Clouds
16 March 1988: New and exciting observations at the European Southern Observatory have probed the interstellar space around last year's bright supernova SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)
eso8801 — Organisation Release
Strange Building for the ESO New Technology Telescope Arrives at the La Silla Observatory
9 February 1988: Last week, M/S “Cervo" arrived in the harbour of Valparaiso, Chile, with the packaged parts for the building which will house the ESO New Technology Telescope (NTT). Soon thereafter, the 350 ton load was hauled by road to the ESO La Silla observatory in the Atacama desert, some 600 km north of Santiago de Chile. Here, at one of the best astronomical sites on earth, the giant mechanical puzzle will now be put together to form one of the strangest telescope domes ever seen. The 3.5 m New Technology Telescope is the forerunner of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) (see eso8602 and eso8717). When the NTT is ready later this year, it will be the technologically most advanced telescope in the world.
eso8717 — Organisation Release
Europe Decides To Build The World's Largest Optical Telescope
8 December 1987: The representatives of the eight member states (Belgium, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland) agreed that the European Southern Observatory shall embark upon the realization of this marvelous instrument. This decision expresses Europe's confidence in the ambition of her astronomical community and the ingenuity of her high-tech industry; together they will ensure that Europe will be second to none in the exploration of the Universe for a long time to come. The VLT is an essential complement of Europe's astronomical research activities from space vehicles.
eso8716 — Science Release
The Nature of the Mysterious “Luminous Arc” Revealed: A Gravitational Einstein Ring
5 November 1987: The prototype of a new class of astrophysical phenomena has now been interpreted. Studies of other objects of the same type will open entirely new vistas in the exploration of the nature of distant galaxies.
eso8715 — Science Release
Discovery of a New Gravitational Lens System
22 October 1987: The discovery of a new gravitational lens system in the southern constellation Cetus comes as a first exciting and fundamental result obtained by a group of European astronomers in the frame of the systematic search program they are carrying out at the ESO La Silla observatory. Not only did they find that the image of the highly luminous quasar (ESO8712 and ESO8713) UM673 is double, but they were also able to observe the distant galaxy that is responsible for this effect. Continued monitoring of this rare object may actually lead to cosmologically significant results about the size and the age of the Universe.
eso8714 — Organisation Release
Intercontinental Remote Control: Observing with La Silla Telescopes from Garching
29 September 1987: ESO announces the establishment of the world's first system for interactive remote control of ground-based telescopes on another continent.
eso8713 — Science Release
Newly Discovered Quasar Is Most Distant Known Object in the Universe
10 September 1987: A newly discovered quasar (eso8712) has been found to have a record redshift [1] of 4.11 and is therefore the hitherto most distant known object in the Universe.
eso8712 — Science Release
Discovery of a Binary Quasar
15 July 1987: The discovery of what may be the first true binary quasar has been reported by a European-American team of astronomers using a combination of optical, spectral, and radio observations. The pairs of nearly identical quasars, separated by only 4.2 arcseconds projection on the sky, have a redshift of 1.345, corresponding to a distance of some 12 billion light-years from Earth (according to the standard cosmological distance scale) and are apparently associated with the radio source PKS 1145-071 in the constellation Crater [1].
eso8711 — Organisation Release
Astronomers and Physicists Meet at ESO at the First Full-Scale International Conference on Supernova 1987A
8 July 1987: The first full-scale, international meeting about the bright Supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was held at the European Southern Observatory in Garching near Munich on July 6 - 8, 1987. ESO was a natural meeting place in view of the many different observational studies of SN 1987A which have been carried out at the ESO La Silla observatory.
eso8710 — Science Release
Is the Universe Younger than Previously Thought?
3 July 1987: The first observations of a long-lived radioactive isotope outside the Solar System indicate that the Universe may be younger than previously thought. Using one of the world's most powerful spectrometers, located at the ESO La Silla observatory in Chile, Professor Harvey R. Butcher of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, has detected for the first time the radioactive element Thorium-232 in stars. A comparison of its abundance in old and young stars failed to show the expected differences. This means that the total age of Thorium-232 in these stars must be smaller than about 10 Gyr [1], instead of the previously estimated 16 - 18 Gyr.
eso8709 — Science Release
Hunting the Black Hole
16 June 1987: Of all exotic objects predicted by current theories, none are as elusive as the Black Holes. Despite great efforts, their existence has never been unambiguously proven by astronomical observations.
eso8708 — Organisation Release
ESO Exhibition at the Heysel Planetarium in Brussels
25 May 1987: An exhibition about the European Southern Observatory will be open to the public at the Heysel Planetarium, Brussels, Belgium, on June 6 - 15, 1987 (all days, also during the weekends, from 10:00 to 16:30). It has been organized in a collaboration between ESO, the Brussels Planetarium and the Belgian National ESO Committee.
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