Photo de la semaine 2010

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potw1052 — Photo de la semaine
The Long and Winding Road*
27 décembre 2010: This splendid picture shows the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal in the Chilean Atacama desert. The mountaintop, 120 km south of the town of Antofagasta, is a remote haven for scientific exploration.Its distance from populated areas means that light pollution is essentially non-existent, which helps to guarantee clear views for the telescopes. It also ensures that activity is not disturbed by other human activities, such as traffic on nearby roads or dusty air from mines. The desert location means that moisture in the atmosphere is at a very low level, which contributes to the excellent atmospheric conditions. As well as the VLT, Paranal Observatory is also home to the VISTA telescope on an adjacent peak, from which this photograph was taken. The road which links the two peaks can be seen in the centre of the image, winding through the desert landscape.The two distinct bright ...
potw1051 — Photo de la semaine
Monuments of Science*
20 décembre 2010: On a remote mountaintop, 2600 metres above sea level in the Chilean Atacama Desert, lies the world’s most advanced visible-light observatory. The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) is not only a window on the Universe; it is also a celebration of modern science and technology. This photograph shows two of the four Unit Telescopes that make up the VLT. With its giant 8.2-metre diameter mirrors, sensitive detectors, and state-of-the art adaptive optics system, the VLT uses cutting-edge technology at every opportunity. Even the telescope enclosures — the domes — are highly advanced, being thermally controlled to reduce air turbulence in the telescope structure. Every night the VLT studies the sky to make discoveries about the Universe. Visible in this photo, sweeping between the two Unit Telescopes, is the plane of the Milky Way. Containing billions of stars, it is our own corner of the cosmos, but the VLT's ...
potw1050 — Photo de la semaine
Collecting Precious Starlight*
13 décembre 2010: As soon as the Sun sets over the Chilean Atacama Desert, ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) begins catching light from the far reaches of the Universe. The VLT has four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes such as the one shown in the photograph. Many of the photons — particles of light — that are collected have travelled through space for billions of years before reaching the telescope’s primary mirror. The giant mirror acts like a high-tech “light bucket”, gathering as many photons as possible and sending them to sensitive detectors. Careful analysis of the data from these instruments allows astronomers to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos. The telescopes have a variety of instruments, which allow them to observe in a range of wavelengths from near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared. The VLT also boasts advanced adaptive optics systems, which counteract the blurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere, producing images so sharp that they could ...
potw1049 — Photo de la semaine
Up Close and Personal with the Very Large Telescope
6 décembre 2010: Imagine being a fly on the wall of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the world's most advanced optical observatory. You could have a view a little like this. Fish-eye photography gives this unusual view of the 8.2-metre diameter telescope, poised and ready to begin gathering light from the deep recesses of the Universe as soon as the dome opens and starlight pours in. The VLT has four of these 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes, called Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun. These are the Mapuche names for the Sun, Moon, Southern Cross and Venus. This photograph shows Yepun. The names are from the native language of the indigenous people who live mostly in the area south of the Bio-Bio River, some 500 km south of Santiago de Chile. The VLT is so powerful that it allows us to see objects four thousand million times fainter than those that can be seen with ...
potw1048 — Photo de la semaine
Crash of the Titans
29 novembre 2010: NGC 520 — also known as Arp 157 — looks like a galaxy in the midst of exploding. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. Two enormous spiral galaxies are crashing into each other, melding and forming a new conglomerate. This happens slowly, over millions of years — the whole process started some 300 million years ago. The object, about 100 000 light-years across, is now in the middle stage of the merging process, as the two nuclei haven’t merged yet, but the two discs have. The merger features a tail of stars and a prominent dust lane. NGC 520 is one of the brightest interacting galaxies in the sky and lies in the direction of Pisces (the Fish), approximately 100 million light-years from Earth. This image was taken by the ESO Faint Object Spectrograph and Camera attached to the 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile. It is based on ...
potw1047 — Photo de la semaine
Looking into the Milky Way’s Heart — ISAAC observes the Galactic Centre
22 novembre 2010: The centre of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is again in the sights of ESO telescopes. This time it’s the turn of ISAAC, the VLT’s near- and mid-infrared spectrometer and camera. From Chile’s Atacama Desert, site of the ESO observatories, the Milky Way offers magnificent views, particularly in the southern hemisphere winter, when the central region of our galaxy is most visible (see eso0934). However, the Galactic Centre itself, located about  27 000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius, hides behind thick clouds of interstellar dust, which appear as dark obscuring lanes in visible light, but which are transparent at longer wavelengths such as the infrared. In this image, the infrared observations clearly reveal the dense clustering of stars in the galactic core. ESO telescopes have been tracking stars orbiting the centre of the Milky Way for more than 18 years, getting the highest resolution images of this area ...
potw1046 — Photo de la semaine
An Ancient Cluster of Stars Against a Stunning Background
15 novembre 2010: Among the myriad of stars in this image shines NGC 2257, a collection of cosmic gems bound tightly by gravity. Many billions of years old, but still sparkling brightly, it is an eye-catching astronomical object. NGC 2257 is a globular cluster, the name given to the roughly spherical concentrations of stars that orbit galactic cores, but are often found far out from the centres in the halo areas of galaxies. Globular clusters contain very old stars, being typically over 10 billion years old, and can therefore be used like a "fossil record" to learn more about the Universe’s past. They are densely packed, with tens to hundreds of thousands of stars gathered within a diameter of just a few tens of light-years. NGC 2257 lies on the outskirts of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way. It is one of 15 very old globular ...
potw1045 — Photo de la semaine
Shooting a Laser at the Galactic Centre
8 novembre 2010: This impressive image, taken on 10 May 2010 by ESO astronomer Yuri Beletsky, beautifully depicts the sky above Paranal. One of the 8.2-metre telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope, Yepun, Unit Telescope 4, is seen against the wonderful backdrop of the myriad of stars and dust that makes up the Milky Way. A laser beam is coming out of Yepun, aiming perfectly at the Galactic Centre. When used with the adaptive optics system the artificial star created by the beam allows the telescope to obtain images and spectra that are free from the blurring effect of the atmosphere. When this image was taken, astronomers Stefan Gillessen and Hauke Enkel were using the SINFONI instrument, together with the laser guide star facility, to study the centre of our Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole is lurking. The field of view of the image is very wide, about 180 degrees. One ...
potw1044-fr-ch — Photo de la semaine
Le Very Large Telescope regarde vers une distante nébuleuse
1 novembre 2010: Les astronomes utilisant des données du Very Large Telescope (VLT) de l'ESO, à l'observatoire de Paranal au Chili, ont fait une impressionnante composite de la nébuleuse Messier 17, aussi connue sous le nom de nébuleuse Omega ou nébuleuse du Cygne. L'image ressemblant à une peinture montre un vaste nuage de gaz et de poussière illuminé par les intenses radiations des jeunes étoiles. Cette image montre la région centrale large d'environ 15 années-lumière, quoique la nébuleuse entière est encore plus grande, environ 40 années-lumière au total. Messier 17 est dans la constellation du Sagittaire (L'Archer), à environ 6000 années-lumière. C'est un objectif populaire parmi les les astronomes amateurs qui peuvent obtenir des images de bonne qualité en utilisant de petits télescopes. Ces profondes observations du VLT ont été faites dans des longueur d'ondes proche de l'infrarouge avec l'instrument ISAAC. Les filtres utilisés était J (1.25 µm, bleu), H(1.6 µm, vert) et K (2.2 ...
potw1043-fr-ch — Photo de la semaine
Le ciel étoilé de La Silla
25 octobre 2010: Les étoiles tournent autour du pôle sud céleste durant une nuit à l'observatoire ESO de La Silla au Nord du Chili. Les parties flous sur les traces des étoiles sur la droite sont dû aux Nuages de Magellan, deux petites galaxies avoisinantes à la Voie Lactée. Le dôme que l'on peut voir dans l'image abrite le télescope ESO de 3.6 mètres et héberge HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher), le principal chasseur d'exoplanètes du monde. Le bâtiment rectangulaire que l'on peut voir au bas droit de l'image contient le télescope TAROT de 0.25 mètres, fabriqué pour réagir très rapidement lorsqu'un sursaut de rayon gamma est détecté. D'autres télescopes de La Silla sont le MPG/ESO télescope de 2.2 mètres et le New Technology Telescope de 3.58 mètres, le premier télescope à avoir utilisé l'optique adaptative, soit le précurseur de tout les grand télescopes modernes. La Silla est la premier site ...
potw1042 — Photo de la semaine
Reflecting on the VLT
18 octobre 2010: The Sun sets at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in this image. Taken at the observatory on Cerro Paranal in the dry Atacama Desert of Chile, the observatory’s four 8.2-metre telescopes can be seen preparing for the night ahead. Three of the VLT’s four Auxiliary 1.8-metre Telescopes (AT), used for interferometry, are also visible. The telescopes are seen reflected in the protection cover of one of the AT stations. The ATs are mounted on tracks and can be moved between precisely defined observing positions from where the beams of collected light are combined in the interferometric laboratory. The ATs are very unusual telescopes, as they are self-contained in their own ultra-compact protective domes, and travel with their own electronics, ventilation, hydraulics and cooling systems. Each AT has a transporter that lifts the telescope and moves it from one position to the other. At 2600 metres above sea level, the observing ...
potw1041 — Photo de la semaine
New Temporary Offices at ESO Headquarters
11 octobre 2010: ESO has grown significantly since 1980, when its European staff originally moved from offices at CERN to a dedicated headquarters building in Garching, near Munich, Germany. In the intervening three decades the number of ESO’s member states has increased from six to fourteen, and the organisation has achieved milestones such as the First Light of the New Technology Telescope at La Silla and of the Very Large Telescope at Paranal, becoming in the process the most productive observatory in the world. Today, ESO is constructing the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array at Chajnantor in collaboration with international partners, and is in the detailed design phase of a 40-metre-class European Extremely Large Telescope, which will be “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”. Over the years, the number of ESO staff working in Garching has increased from about 100 to about 450, as the organisation has grown and tackled these exciting new ...
potw1040 — Photo de la semaine
ALMA Antennas on Chajnantor
4 octobre 2010: Two of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) 12-metre antennas gaze at the sky at the observatory’s Array Operations Site (AOS), high on the Chajnantor plateau at an altitude of 5000 metres in the Chilean Andes. Eight antennas have been installed at the AOS since November 2009. More antennas will be installed on the Chajnantor plateau during the next months and beyond, allowing astronomers to start producing early scientific results with the ALMA system around late 2011. After this, the interferometer will steadily grow to reach its full scientific potential, with at least 66 antennas. ALMA is the largest ground-based astronomy project in existence, and will comprise a giant array of 12-metre submillimetre quality antennas, with baselines of up to about 16 kilometres. An additional, compact array of 7-metre and 12-metre antennas will complement the main array. The ALMA project is an international collaboration between Europe, East Asia and North ...
potw1039 — Photo de la semaine
A Solargraph taken from APEX at Chajnantor
27 septembre 2010: This unusual and artistic image, made using a technique known as "solargraphy" in which a pinhole camera captures the movement of the Sun in the sky over many months, was taken from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope on the plateau of Chajnantor. The plateau is also where ESO, together with international partners, is building the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The solar trails in the image were recorded over half a year and clearly show the quality of the 5000-metre altitude site, high in the Chilean Andes, for astronomical observations. The idea for creating the solargraphs at ESO's telescopes came from Bob Fosbury, an astronomer based at ESO Headquarters in Germany, after learning about the technique from Finnish artist Tarja Trygg. Trygg provided the cameras, known as "cans". The cans are constructed from small black plastic canisters used for storing 35 mm film cassettes. A pinhole in a sheet ...
potw1038-fr-ch — Photo de la semaine
Les étoiles brillent au-dessus de Paranal
20 septembre 2010: Après que le Soleil se soit couché à l'observatoire ESO de Paranal tout devient sombre, mais le ciel noir est tacheté de glorieuses myriades d'étoiles étincelantes. Cette exposition de 15 secondes prouve la clarté du ciel au-dessus de Paranal. Situé haut dans le désert d'Atacama au Chili loin de toute source de pollution lumineuse, durant une claire nuit sans Lune il est possible de voir son ombre créé par la seule lumière de la Voie Lactée. Selon l'artiste visuel et ambassadeur photo de l'ESO José Francisco Salgado, "Les cieux à Paranal font partis des plus sombres que j'ai jamais photographié. J'adore photographier les observatoires et à Paranal c'est incroyable comment on peut encore voir uniquement avec la lumière des étoiles et du zodiaque!" Dans cette image, les étoiles de la Voie Lactée semble descendre du dôme ouvert du télescope. La partie la plus brillante, proche du télescope, est la nébuleuse ...
potw1037 — Photo de la semaine
The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy
13 septembre 2010: Spiralling around, 61 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax (the Furnace), NGC 1365 is enormous. At 200000 light-years across, it is one of the largest galaxies known to astronomers. This, plus the sharply defined bar of old stars across its structure is why it is also known as the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy. Astronomers think that the Milky Way may look very similar to this galaxy, but at half the size. The bright centre of the galaxy is thought to be due to huge amounts of superhot gas ejected from the ring of material circling a central black hole. Young luminous hot stars, born out of the interstellar clouds, give the arms a prominent appearance and a blue colour. The bar and spiral pattern rotates, with one full turn taking about 350 million years. This image combines observations performed through three different filters (B, V, R) with the 1.5-metre ...
potw1036-fr-ch — Photo de la semaine
Un laser vers le centre de la Voie Lactée
6 septembre 2010: Au milieu d'Août 2010 l'ambassadeur photo de l'ESO Yuri Beletsky a pris cette étonnante photo à l'observatoire ESO de Paranal. Un groupe d'astronomes observait le centre de la Voie Lactée en utilisant l'installation d'étoile laser guide à Yepun, l'un des quatres Unit Telescope du Very Large Telescope (VLT). Le laser de Yepun traverse le majestueux ciel austral et créé une étoile artificielle à une altitude de 90km, haut dans la mésosphère terrestre. Le Laser Guide Star (LGS) fait parti du système d'optique adaptative du VLT et est utilisé comme une référence pour corriger les effets flous de l'atmosphère sur les images. La couleur du laser est choisie précisément pour exciter une couche de sodium se trouvant dans les couches supérieurs de l'atmosphère, on peut reconnaitre la couleur familière des lampes à sodium des éclairages de rue. Cette couche d'atomes de sodium est probablement un reste des météorites entrant l'atmosphère terrestre. ...
potw1035 — Photo de la semaine
Arp 271 — Galaxies Drawn Together*
30 août 2010: NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are two spiral galaxies of similar sizes engaged in a dramatic dance. It is not certain that this interaction will end in a collision and ultimately a merging of the two galaxies, although the galaxies have already been affected. Together known as Arp 271, this dance will last for tens of millions of years, creating new stars as a result of the mutual gravitational attraction between the galaxies, a pull seen in the bridge of stars already connecting the two. Located 90 million light-years away towards the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin), the Arp 271 pair is about 130 000 light-years across. It was originally discovered in 1785 by William Herschel. Quite possibly, our own Milky Way will undergo a similar collision in about five billion years with the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy, which is now located about 2.6 million light-years away from the Milky Way. ...
potw1034 — Photo de la semaine
Starry Night at Paranal*
23 août 2010: During a night at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the stars seem to rotate around the southern celestial pole. The skies over Paranal provide splendid observing opportunities for the astronomers below. At the observatory on Cerro Paranal in the dry Atacama Desert of Chile, one of the observatory’s four 8.2-metre telescopes can be seen on the right performing its nightly task of looking at the heavens. Two of the four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes are also seen in the picture. The dry, high environment at 2600 metres above sea level, and the extraordinarily advanced equipment makes observing time at the VLT highly sought after by astronomers around the world. 
potw1033 — Photo de la semaine
The 2010 Perseids over the VLT
16 août 2010: Every year in mid-August the Perseid meteor shower has its peak. Meteors, colloquially known as “shooting stars”, are caused by pieces of cosmic debris entering Earth’s atmosphere at high velocity, leaving a trail of glowing gases. Most of the particles that cause meteors are smaller than a grain of sand and usually disintegrate in the atmosphere, only rarely reaching the Earth’s surface as a meteorite. The Perseid shower takes place as the Earth moves through the stream of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. In 2010 the peak was predicted to take place between 12–13 August 2010. Despite the Perseids being best visible in the northern hemisphere, due to the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit, the shower was also spotted from the exceptionally dark skies over ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. In order not to miss any meteors in the display, ESO Photo Ambassador Stéphane Guisard set up 3 cameras ...
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