Press Releases 2012

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eso1233 — Photo Release
Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe
15 August 2012: Just as René Magritte wrote “This is not a pipe” on his famous painting, this is also not a pipe. It is however a picture of part of a vast dark cloud of interstellar dust called the Pipe Nebula. This new and very detailed image of what is also known as Barnard 59 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. By coincidence this image is appearing on the 45th anniversary of the painter’s death.
eso1232 — Organisation Release
Choose What the VLT Observes & Tweet Your Way to the VLT!
8 August 2012: ESO builds and operates some of the most advanced telescopes on Earth including the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. These huge machines have made many fascinating discoveries about the Universe. Now, for the first time in its history, you can decide what to observe with the VLT, or even win an amazing trip to Chile’s breathtaking Atacama Desert to help make the observations yourself.
eso1231 — Photo Release
A Blue Whirlpool in The River
1 August 2012: A new image taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 1187. This impressive spiral lies about 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus (The River). NGC 1187 has hosted two supernova explosions during the last thirty years, the latest one in 2007. This picture of the galaxy is the most detailed ever taken.
eso1230 — Science Release
The Brightest Stars Don't Live Alone
26 July 2012: A new study using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has shown that most very bright high-mass stars, which drive the evolution of galaxies, do not live alone. Almost three quarters of these stars are found to have a close companion star, far more than previously thought. Surprisingly most of these pairs are also experiencing disruptive interactions, such as mass transfer from one star to the other, and about one third are even expected to ultimately merge to form a single star. The results are published in the 27 July 2012 issue of the journal Science.
eso1229 — Organisation Release
APEX takes part in sharpest observation ever
18 July 2012: An international team of astronomers has observed the heart of a distant quasar with unprecedented sharpness, two million times finer than human vision. The observations, made by connecting the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope [1] to two others on different continents for the first time, is a crucial step towards the dramatic scientific goal of the “Event Horizon Telescope” project [2]: imaging the supermassive black holes at the centre of our own galaxy and others.
eso1228 — Science Release
Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First Time
11 July 2012: For the first time, dark galaxies — an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now — may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, an international team thinks they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar.
eso1227 — Science Release
New Way of Probing Exoplanet Atmospheres
27 June 2012: For the first time a clever new technique has allowed astronomers to study the atmosphere of an exoplanet in detail — even though it does not pass in front of its parent star. An international team has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to directly catch the faint glow from the planet Tau Boötis b. They have studied the planet’s atmosphere and measured its orbit and mass precisely for the first time — in the process solving a 15-year old problem. Surprisingly, the team also finds that the planet’s atmosphere seems to be cooler higher up, the opposite of what was expected. The results will be published in the 28 June 2012 issue of the journal Nature.
eso1226 — Photo Release
VLT Takes a Close Look at NGC 6357
20 June 2012: ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has taken the most detailed image so far of a spectacular part of the stellar nursery called NGC 6357. The view shows many hot young stars, glowing clouds of gas and weird dust formations sculpted by ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds.
eso1225 — Organisation Release
ESO To Build World’s Biggest Eye On The Sky
11 June 2012: ESO is to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting in Garching today, the ESO Council approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of four so-called ad referendum [1] votes. The E-ELT will start operations early in the next decade.
eso1224 — Organisation Release
King of Spain Visits ESO’s Paranal Observatory
7 June 2012: On Wednesday 6 June His Majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory, where he met with the Presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as other senior representatives present at Paranal for the Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance.
eso1223 — Organisation Release
Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance takes place at ESO's Paranal Observatory
6 June 2012: The presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru met today at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of Chile, seeing first hand the state-of-the-art telescopes and technology of ESO’s flagship site. The presidents gathered at Paranal for the fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance, at which the Alliance’s Framework Agreement was ratified.
eso1222 — Photo Release
ALMA Turns its Eyes to Centaurus A
31 May 2012: A new image of the centre of the distinctive galaxy Centaurus A, made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), shows how the new observatory allows astronomers to see through the opaque dust lanes that obscure the galaxy’s centre, with unprecedented quality. ALMA is currently in its Early Science phase of observations and is still under construction, but is already the most powerful telescope of its kind. The observatory has just issued the Call for Proposals for its next cycle of observations, in which the growing telescope will have increased capabilities.
eso1221 — Photo Release
A Deeper Look at Centaurus A
16 May 2012: The strange galaxy Centaurus A is pictured in a new image from the European Southern Observatory. With a total exposure time of more than 50 hours this is probably the deepest view of this peculiar and spectacular object ever created. The image was produced by the Wide Field Imager of the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
eso1220 — Photo Release
VISTA Views a Vast Ball of Stars
9 May 2012: A new image of Messier 55 from ESO's VISTA infrared survey telescope shows tens of thousands of stars crowded together like a swarm of bees. Besides being packed into a relatively small space, these stars are also among the oldest in the Universe. Astronomers study Messier 55 and other ancient objects like it, called globular clusters, to learn how galaxies evolve and stars age.
eso1219 — Photo Release
Sifting through Dust near Orion's Belt
2 May 2012: A new image of the region surrounding the reflection nebula Messier 78, just to the north of Orion’s Belt, shows clouds of cosmic dust threaded through the nebula like a string of pearls. The observations, made with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope[1], use the heat glow of interstellar dust grains to show astronomers where new stars are being formed.
eso1218 — Photo Release
A Cluster Within a Cluster
25 April 2012: The star cluster NGC 6604 is shown in this new image taken by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is often overlooked in favour of its more prominent neighbour, the Eagle Nebula (also known as Messier 16), that lies a mere wingspan away. But the framing of this picture, which places the star cluster in a landscape of surrounding gas and dust clouds, shows what a beautiful object NGC 6604 is in its own right.
eso1217 — Science Release
Serious Blow to Dark Matter Theories?
18 April 2012: The most accurate study so far of the motions of stars in the Milky Way has found no evidence for dark matter in a large volume around the Sun. According to widely accepted theories, the solar neighbourhood was expected to be filled with dark matter, a mysterious invisible substance that can only be detected indirectly by the gravitational force it exerts. But a new study by a team of astronomers in Chile has found that these theories just do not fit the observational facts. This may mean that attempts to directly detect dark matter particles on Earth are unlikely to be successful.
eso1216 — Science Release
ALMA Reveals Workings of Nearby Planetary System
12 April 2012: A new observatory still under construction has given astronomers a major breakthrough in understanding a nearby planetary system and provided valuable clues about how such systems form and evolve. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that planets orbiting the star Fomalhaut must be much smaller than originally thought. This is the first published science result from ALMA in its first period of open observations for astronomers worldwide.
eso1215 — Organisation Release
ESO Expands its Headquarters
4 April 2012: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has contracted architects Auer+Weber to design an extension to its Headquarters at Garching bei München, Germany. The innovatively styled new office building will help to house the growing number of Garching staff, and be the cradle of the technological innovations needed for ESO’s ambitious projects such as the European Extremely Large Telescope. With construction expected to be completed by the end of 2013, the expanded ESO Headquarters will contribute greatly to the development of the Garching research campus.
eso1214 — Science Release
Many Billions of Rocky Planets in the Habitable Zones around Red Dwarfs in the Milky Way
28 March 2012: A new result from ESO’s HARPS planet finder shows that rocky planets not much bigger than Earth are very common in the habitable zones around faint red stars. The international team estimates that there are tens of billions of such planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and probably about one hundred in the Sun’s immediate neighbourhood. This is the first direct measurement of the frequency of super-Earths around red dwarfs, which account for 80% of the stars in the Milky Way.
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