Press Releases

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eso1408 — Science Release
Crashing Comets Explain Surprise Gas Clump Around Young Star
6 March 2014: Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile have today announced the discovery of an unexpected clump of carbon monoxide gas in the dusty disc around the star Beta Pictoris. This is a surprise, as such gas is expected to be rapidly destroyed by starlight. Something — probably frequent collisions between small, icy objects such as comets — must be causing the gas to be continuously replenished. The new results are published today in the journal Science.
eso1407 — Organisation Release
First Light for MUSE
5 March 2014: A new innovative instrument called MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) has been successfully installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. MUSE has observed distant galaxies, bright stars and other test targets during the first period of very successful observations.
eso1406 — Photo Release
Diamonds in the Tail of the Scorpion
19 February 2014: A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky — making it an important astronomical research target.
eso1405 — Science Release
The Anatomy of an Asteroid
5 February 2014: ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid’s formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.
eso1404 — Science Release
First Weather Map of Brown Dwarf
29 January 2014: ESO's Very Large Telescope has been used to create the first ever map of the weather on the surface of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth. An international team has made a chart of the dark and light features on WISE J104915.57-531906.1B, which is informally known as Luhman 16B and is one of two recently discovered brown dwarfs forming a pair only six light-years from the Sun. The new results are being published in the 30 January 2014 issue of the journal Nature.
eso1403 — Photo Release
Sneak Preview of Survey Telescope Treasure Trove
22 January 2014: The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile has captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of eleven public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. Together these are providing a vast legacy of publicly available data for the global astronomical community.
eso1402 — Science Release
First Planet Found Around Solar Twin in Star Cluster
15 January 2014: Astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67. Although more than one thousand planets outside the Solar System are now confirmed, only a handful have been found in star clusters. Remarkably one of these new exoplanets is orbiting a star that is a rare solar twin — a star that is almost identical to the Sun in all respects.
eso1401 — Science Release
ALMA Spots Supernova Dust Factory
6 January 2014: Striking new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope capture, for the first time, the remains of a recent supernova brimming with freshly formed dust. If enough of this dust makes the perilous transition into interstellar space, it could explain how many galaxies acquired their dusty, dusky appearance.
eso1350 — Organisation Release
Extension to ESO Headquarters Inaugurated
5 December 2013: On 4 December 2013, at ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, an official inauguration ceremony was held for the new office extension. This celebration was attended by members of the ESO Council, local authorities, the architects Auer+Weber+Assoziierte, the general contractor BAM Deutschland AG and the ESO management team.
eso1349 — Organisation Release
Planetarium and Visitor Centre Donated to ESO
3 December 2013: ESO has received a donation of a planetarium and visitor centre at the site of its Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. The centre will be a magnificent showcase of astronomy for the public. It will be possible thanks to the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, which offered to fully fund the construction.
eso1348 — Photo Release
A Fiery Drama of Star Birth and Death
27 November 2013: The Large Magellanic Cloud is one of the closest galaxies to our own. Astronomers have now used the power of ESO’s Very Large Telescope to explore one of its lesser known regions. This new image shows clouds of gas and dust where hot new stars are being born and are sculpting their surroundings into odd shapes. But the image also shows the effects of stellar death — filaments created by a supernova explosion.
eso1347 — Photo Release
Young Stars Paint Spectacular Stellar Landscape
13 November 2013: Astronomers at ESO have captured the best image so far of the curious clouds around the star cluster NGC 3572. This new image shows how these clouds of gas and dust have been sculpted into whimsical bubbles, arcs and the odd features known as elephant trunks by the stellar winds flowing from this gathering of hot young stars. The brightest of these cluster stars are much heavier than the Sun and will end their short lives as supernova explosions.
eso1346 — Organisation Release
ESO Celebrates 50 Years of Collaboration with Chile
6 November 2013: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of a very fruitful relationship between ESO and Chile that has allowed both European and Chilean astronomy to push the boundaries of science, technology and culture forward into the future.
eso1345 — Organisation Release
Chilean President Visits Paranal to Announce Transfer of Land for the E-ELT
28 October 2013: At a ceremony held yesterday at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, handed over the recently signed legal documents by which the Chilean government will transfer the land around Cerro Armazones to ESO. Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metre peak 20 kilometres from the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal, will be the future home of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
eso1344 — Science Release
ALMA Probes Mysteries of Jets from Giant Black Holes
16 October 2013: Two international teams of astronomers have used the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to focus on jets from the huge black holes at the centres of galaxies and observe how they affect their surroundings. They have respectively obtained the best view yet of the molecular gas around a nearby, quiet black hole and caught an unexpected glimpse of the base of a powerful jet close to a distant black hole.
eso1343 — Photo Release
A Close Look at the Toby Jug Nebula
9 October 2013: ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured a remarkably detailed image of the Toby Jug Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust surrounding a red giant star. This view shows the characteristic arcing structure of the nebula, which, true to its name, does indeed look a little like a jug with a handle.
eso1342 — Organisation Release
Final Antenna Delivered to ALMA
1 October 2013: The final antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project has just been handed over to the ALMA Observatory. The 12-metre-diameter dish was manufactured by the European AEM Consortium and also marks the successful delivery of a total of 25 European antennas — the largest ESO contract so far.
eso1341 — Photo Release
The Cool Glow of Star Formation
25 September 2013: A new instrument called ArTeMiS has been successfully installed on APEX — the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment. APEX is a 12-metre diameter telescope located high in the Atacama Desert, which operates at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum — providing a valuable tool for astronomers to peer further into the Universe. The new camera has already delivered a spectacularly detailed view of the Cat’s Paw Nebula.
eso1340 — Photo Release
Young Stars Cooking in the Prawn Nebula
18 September 2013: The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in this new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.
eso1339 — Science Release
The Peanut at the Heart of our Galaxy
12 September 2013: Two groups of astronomers have used data from ESO telescopes to make the best three-dimensional map yet of the central parts of the Milky Way. They have found that the inner regions take on a peanut-like, or X-shaped, appearance from some angles. This odd shape was mapped by using public data from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope along with measurements of the motions of hundreds of very faint stars in the central bulge.
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