Press Releases 2005

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eso0544 — Photo Release
The Cosmic Christmas Ghost
25 December 2005: Just like Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol takes us on a journey into past, present and future in the time of only one Christmas Eve, two of ESO' s telescopes captured various stages in the life of a star in a single image.
eso0543 — Organisation Release
ALMA on the Move
22 December 2005: Only two weeks after awarding its largest-ever contract for the procurement of antennas for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array project (ALMA), ESO has signed a contract with Scheuerle Fahrzeugfabrik GmbH, a world-leader in the design and production of custom-built heavy-duty transporters, for the provision of two antenna transporting vehicles. These vehicles are of crucial importance for ALMA.
eso0542 — Science Release
Allo, Allo? A Star is Ringing
21 December 2005: Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile and the Anglo-Australian Telescope in eastern Australia as a 'stellar stethoscope' to listen to the internal rumblings of a nearby star. The data collected with the VLT have a precision better than 1.5 cm/s, or less than 0.06 km per hour!
eso0541 — Science Release
Witnessing the Flash from a Black Hole's Cannibal Act
14 December 2005: An international team of astronomers reports the discovery of a third short gamma-ray burst, associated with a nearby elliptical galaxy. The low level of star formation in such galaxies and the detection of a second long-lasting flare indicate that this gamma-ray burst is most likely the final scream of a neutron star as it is being devoured by a black hole.
eso0540 — Organisation Release
ESO Signs Largest-Ever European Industrial Contract For Ground-Based Astronomy Project ALMA
7 December 2005: ESO, the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, announced today that it has signed a contract with the consortium led by Alcatel Alenia Space and composed also of European Industrial Engineering (Italy) and MT Aerospace (Germany), to supply 25 antennas for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) project, along with an option for another seven antennas. The contract, worth 147 million euros, covers the design, manufacture, transport and on-site integration of the antennas. It is the largest contract ever signed in ground-based astronomy in Europe.
eso0539 — Science Release
The Dwarf that Carries a World
30 November 2005: A team of French and Swiss astronomers [1] have discovered one of the lightest exoplanets ever found using the HARPS instrument [2] on ESO's 3.6-m telescope at La Silla (Chile). The new planet orbits a star belonging to the class of red dwarfs. As these stars are very common, this discovery proves crucial in the census of other planetary systems.
eso0538 — Science Release
Sharp Vision Reveals Intimacy of Stars
24 November 2005: Using the newly installed AMBER instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer, which combines the light from two or three 8.2-m Unit Telescopes thereby amounting to observe with a telescope of 40 to 90 metres in diameter, two international teams of astronomers observed with unprecedented detail the environment of two stars. One is a young, still-forming star and the new results provide useful information on the conditions leading to the creation of planets. The other is on the contrary a star entering the latest stages of its life. The astronomers found, in both cases, evidence for a surrounding disc.
eso0537 — Organisation Release
Setting the Stage for Science in Schools
10 November 2005: How can you weigh the Earth with a straw, a paperclip and a piece of thread? Why don't we really know what we see? How can a juggling act explain mathematics? These are but a few of the on-stage activities that will be shown at the EIROforum [1] Science on Stage Festival, to be held from 21 to 25 November at CERN in Geneva (Switzerland). With support from the European Commission, this international festival brings together around 500 science educators from 29 European countries to show how fascinating and entertaining science can be.
eso0536 — Science Release
Star on the Run
9 November 2005: Observations with Kueyen, one of the 8.2m telescopes composing the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), have led to the discovery of a short-lived massive star that is moving at a very high speed through the outer halo of the Milky Way galaxy and into intergalactic space. This finding could provide evidence for a previously unknown massive black hole in the heart of the Milky Way's closest neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud.
eso0535 — Photo Release
Cosmic Portrait of a Perturbed Family
4 November 2005: Image eso0535a shows in amazing details a group of galaxies known as Robert's Quartet [1]. The image is based on data collected with the FORS2 multi-mode instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope.
eso0534 — Photo Release
Feeding the Monster
17 October 2005: Near-infrared images of the active galaxy NGC 1097, obtained with the NACO adaptive optics instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope, disclose with unprecedented detail a complex central network of filamentary structure spiralling down to the centre of the galaxy. These observations provide astronomers with new insights on how super-massive black holes lurking inside galaxies get fed.
eso0533 — Science Release
Flashes Shed Light on Cosmic Clashes
6 October 2005: An international team of astronomers led by Danish astronomer Jens Hjorth [1] has for the first time observed the visible light from a short gamma-ray burst (GRB). Using the 1.5m Danish telescope at La Silla (Chile), they showed that these short, intense bursts of gamma-ray emission most likely originate from the violent collision of two merging neutron stars. The same team has also used ESO's Very Large Telescope to constrain the birthplace of the first ever short burst whose position could be pinpointed with high precision, GRB 050509B. The results are being published in the October 6 issue of the journal Nature. Gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful type of explosion known in the Universe, have been a mystery for three decades. They come in two different flavours, long and short ones. Over the past few years, international efforts have convincingly shown that long gamma-ray bursts are linked with the ultimate explosion of massive stars.
eso0532 — Photo Release
The Colossal Cosmic Eye
29 September 2005: Astronomers have released a new, stunning picture of the spiral galaxy NGC 1350. Resembling the shape of an eye, the galaxy exhibits a double ring structure whose blue glow reveals the presence of many young stars.
eso0531 — Organisation Release
Desert Pathfinder at Work
25 September 2005: The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) project celebrates the inauguration of its outstanding 12-m telescope, located on the 5100m high Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert (Chile). The APEX telescope, designed to work at sub-millimetre wavelengths, in the 0.2 to 1.5 mm range, passed successfully its Science Verification phase in July, and since then is performing regular science observations. This new front-line facility provides access to the "Cold Universe" with unprecedented sensitivity and image quality.
eso0530 — Science Release
A Cosmic Baby-Boom
22 September 2005: The Universe was a more fertile place soon after it was formed than has previously been suspected. A team of French and Italian astronomers [1] made indeed the surprising discovery of a large and unknown population of distant galaxies observed when the Universe was only 10 to 30% its present age.
eso0529 — Science Release
Black Hole in Search of a Home
14 September 2005: An international team of astronomers [1] used two of the most powerful astronomical facilities available, the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), to conduct a detailed study of 20 low redshift quasars. For 19 of them, they found, as expected, that these super massive black holes are surrounded by a host galaxy. But when they studied the bright quasar HE0450-2958, located some 5 billion light-years away, they couldn't find evidence for an encircling galaxy. This, the astronomers suggest, may indicate a rare case of collision between a seemingly normal spiral galaxy and a much more exotic object harbouring a very massive black hole.
eso0528 — Science Release
Star Death Beacon at the Edge of the Universe
12 September 2005: An Italian team of astronomers has observed the afterglow of a Gamma-Ray Burst that is the farthest known ever. With a measured redshift of 6.3, the light from this very remote astronomical source has taken 12,700 million years to reach us. It is thus seen when the Universe was less than 900 million years old, or less than 7 percent its present age.
eso0527 — Photo Release
Celestial Blast in Bleak Reticulum
24 August 2005: The southern Reticulum constellation [1] certainly isn't a big hit for amateur astronomers. This tiny, bleak and diamond-shaped constellation, not far on the sky from the Large Magellanic Cloud, is often overlooked. But recently, astronomers had a closer look at a galaxy situated inside it. And more precisely at an exploding star hosted by the spiral galaxy NGC 1559 [2].
eso0526 — Science Release
Rubble-Pile Minor Planet Sylvia and Her Twins
11 August 2005: One of the thousands of minor planets orbiting the Sun has been found to have its own mini planetary system. Astronomer Franck Marchis (University of California, Berkeley, USA) and his colleagues at the Observatoire de Paris (France) [1] have discovered the first triple asteroid system - two small asteroids orbiting a larger one known since 1866 as 87 Sylvia [2].
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