La Silla’s new gem

This family portrait of the telescopes residing at ESO’s La Silla Observatory was captured in 2019 during the breathtaking sunset over the outskirts of Chilean Atacama Desert. 

Standing tall at the front of the portrait is one of La Silla’s new family members: BlackGEM, an array of optical telescopes which will join soon the search for some of the most powerful and dramatic events in the Universe, such as merging neutron stars and black holes. This robotic array was developed by Radboud University (from where it is remotely controlled), the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), and the KU Leuven.

These exotic events cause ripples in the fabric of spacetime known as gravitational waves. BlackGEM will work together with gravitational wave detectors such as LIGO and Virgo to pinpoint in visible light the sources responsible for gravitational waves. This will allow for bigger telescopes — such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) — to carry out detailed follow-up observations. This will provide astronomers with insight into some of the most extreme events in the universe and help unveil the mysteries of the cosmos.


Zdeněk Bardon (

About the Image

Release date:6 December 2021, 06:00
Size:5000 x 2766 px

About the Object

Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory
Category:La Silla

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