Shooting Star over ESO Telescopes

This picture of the week shows two of the three new ExTrA telescopes hosted at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Situated over 2000 meters above sea level, these telescopes scour the skies for Earth-sized worlds around M class stars, which are stars smaller than the Sun. 

A “shooting star” flashes across the night sky above the telescopes and towards the horizon of the Atacama Desert in Chile. Shooting stars are not actually stars, but small bits of rock or dust that enter the Earth’s orbit and burn up in the atmosphere. Before they enter Earth’s atmosphere, these tiny celestial bodies are called meteoroids.

The dramatic streaks of light caused by meteoroids burning up are not just beautiful and exciting, but also informative. Scientists look at the path and brightness of a meteoroid to determine where in the Solar System it came from and what it is composed of. If a meteoroid makes it through Earth’s atmosphere to the ground it is then called a meteorite. Scientists can study meteorites to learn more about the history of the Solar System.


About the Image

Release date:20 April 2020, 06:00
Size:5183 x 3455 px

About the Object

Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Telescope
Category:La Silla

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