ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive astronomical observatory. It operates three sites in Chile — La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor — on behalf of its fifteen member states. It builds ALMA together with international partners, and designs the European Extremely Large Telescope.
This new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that causes the surrounding hydrogen to glow with a characteristic red hue.
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this eye-catching image of planetary nebula PN A66 33 — usually known as Abell 33. Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble is, by chance, aligned with a foreground star, and bears an uncanny resemblance to a diamond engagement ring. This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost circular on the sky.
This new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows two contrasting galaxies: NGC 1316, and its smaller neighbour NGC 1317. These two are quite close to each other in space, but they have very different histories. The small spiral NGC 1317 has led an uneventful life, but NGC 1316 has engulfed several other galaxies in its violent history and shows the battle scars.
Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris. The new results are published online in the journal Nature on 26 March 2014.
VLT Spots Largest Yellow Hypergiant Star — Mix of new and old observations reveals exotic binary system
ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has revealed the largest yellow star — and one of the ten largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over sixty years, some from amateur observers, also indicate that this rare and remarkable object is changing very rapidly and has been caught during a very brief phase of its life.
About the ESO Science Outreach Network
The ESO education and Public Outreach Department has established a network of persons in the ESO Member states and other countries who serve as local contacts for the media in connection with ESO developments, Press Releases, etc. At the same time, they may help to provide useful contacts between the media and the scientists in their area. The ESON members, or their representatives, are typically full-time science communicators who know the national players (media, academia etc.) and regularly interact with them, are able to find a national angle, have a strong interest in promoting ESO and provide regular inputs and ideas for how to best reach the target groups in their area. More precisely, their mission is: "To act as ESO's media and outreach representative in the member states and potential member states with the general aim of promoting ESO's mission and demonstrating the many inspirational aspects of astronomy".
Contact in the U.K.
Science and Technology Facilities Council
North Star Avenue
Wilts SN2 1SZ
Wendy Ellison is a press officer for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), one of the UK's leading research organisations. STFC runs the UK Astronomy Technology Centre and RAL Space, funds astronomy research in the UK, and manages the UK subscription to ESO.
Wendy has a background in PR and science communication, working to promote the wide range of science coming out of STFC.