Orion Watches over Paranal

The soft glow of the Milky Way pours down like a waterfall over the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. 2635 metres above sea level, the VST has an unparallelled view of the magnificently clear skies above Chile’s Atacama Desert. It is the largest telescope in the world dedicated to observational surveys in visible light, and it contributes to a vast range of studies, from discovering remote Solar System bodies to searching for exoplanet transits, to studying the structure and evolution of our galaxy.

Above the VST, a few stars are particularly prominent just outside the main band of the galaxy: the bright reddish star is Betelgeuse, a red supergiant 640 light-years away thought to be on the brink of a supernova explosion. Betelgeuse and Bellatrix, the fainter white star to its left, are the shoulders of Orion the Hunter, one of the most famous and easily recognisable constellations in the sky. The three stars forming a straight line above the shoulders are Orion’s belt, and the nearby purple-tinged cluster of light is the Orion Nebula. Though it looks like a fuzzy patch to the naked-eye, binoculars or a telescope reveal it to be a spectacular nebula, host to massive amounts of star formation.


ESO/Y. Beletsky

About the Image

Release date:2 March 2020, 06:00
Size:4053 x 5169 px

About the Object

Name:Very Large Telescope
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Telescope

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