Press Releases

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eso1038 — Photo Release
An Elegant Galaxy in an Unusual Light
22 September 2010: A new image taken with the powerful HAWK-I camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile shows the beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 in infrared light. NGC 1365 is a member of the Fornax cluster of galaxies, and lies about 60 million light-years from Earth.
eso1037 — Photo Release
A Nearby Galactic Exemplar
8 September 2010: ESO has released a spectacular new image of NGC 300, a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way, and located in the nearby Sculptor Group of galaxies. Taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, this 50-hour exposure reveals the structure of the galaxy in exquisite detail. NGC 300 lies about six million light-years away and appears to be about two thirds the size of the full Moon on the sky.
eso1036 — Photo Release
The Superwind Galaxy NGC 4666
1 September 2010: The galaxy NGC 4666 takes pride of place at the centre of this new image, made in visible light with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. NGC 4666 is a remarkable galaxy with very vigorous star formation and an unusual “superwind” of out-flowing gas. It had previously been observed in X-rays by the ESA XMM-Newton space telescope, and the image presented here was taken to allow further study of other objects detected in the earlier X-ray observations.
eso1035 — Science Release
Richest Planetary System Discovered
24 August 2010: Astronomers using ESO’s world-leading HARPS instrument have discovered a planetary system containing at least five planets, orbiting the Sun-like star HD 10180. The researchers also have tantalising evidence that two other planets may be present, one of which would have the lowest mass ever found. This would make the system similar to our Solar System in terms of the number of planets (seven as compared to the Solar System’s eight planets). Furthermore, the team also found evidence that the distances of the planets from their star follow a regular pattern, as also seen in our Solar System.
eso1034 — Science Release
How Much Mass Makes a Black Hole?
18 August 2010: Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, European astronomers have for the first time demonstrated that a magnetar — an unusual type of neutron star — was formed from a star with at least 40 times as much mass as the Sun. The result presents great challenges to current theories of how stars evolve, as a star as massive as this was expected to become a black hole, not a magnetar. This now raises a fundamental question: just how massive does a star really have to be to become a black hole?
eso1033 — Photo Release
Ambitious Survey Spots Stellar Nurseries
11 August 2010: Astronomers scanning the skies as part of ESO’s VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey have now obtained a spectacular picture of the Tarantula Nebula in our neighbouring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. This panoramic near-infrared view captures the nebula itself in great detail as well as the rich surrounding area of sky. The image was obtained at the start of a very ambitious survey of our neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, and their environment.
eso1032 — Science Release
Seeing a Stellar Explosion in 3D
4 August 2010: Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have for the first time obtained a three-dimensional view of the distribution of the innermost material expelled by a recently exploded star. The original blast was not only powerful, according to the new results. It was also more concentrated in one particular direction. This is a strong indication that the supernova must have been very turbulent, supporting the most recent computer models.
eso1031 — Photo Release
Brilliant Star in a Colourful Neighbourhood
28 July 2010: A spectacular new image from ESO’s Wide Field Imager at the La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the brilliant and unusual star WR 22 and its colourful surroundings. WR 22 is a very hot and bright star that is shedding its atmosphere into space at a rate many millions of times faster than the Sun. It lies in the outer part of the dramatic Carina Nebula from which it formed.
eso1030 — Science Release
Stars Just Got Bigger
21 July 2010: Using a combination of instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered the most massive stars to date, one weighing at birth more than 300 times the mass of the Sun, or twice as much as the currently accepted limit of 150 solar masses. The existence of these monsters — millions of times more luminous than the Sun, losing weight through very powerful winds — may provide an answer to the question “how massive can stars be?”
eso1029 — Science Release
Unravelling the Mystery of Massive Star Birth
14 July 2010: Astronomers have obtained the first image of a dusty disc closely encircling a massive baby star, providing direct evidence that massive stars form in the same way as their smaller brethren. This discovery, made thanks to a combination of ESO’s telescopes, is described in an article in this week’s issue of Nature.
eso1028 — Science Release
Black Hole Blows Big Bubble
7 July 2010: Combining observations made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope, astronomers have uncovered the most powerful pair of jets ever seen from a stellar black hole. This object, also known as a microquasar, blows a huge bubble of hot gas, 1000 light-years across, twice as large and tens of times more powerful than other known microquasars. The discovery is reported this week in the journal Nature.
eso1027 — Photo Release
R Coronae Australis: A Cosmic Watercolour
30 June 2010: This magnificent view of the region around the star R Coronae Australis was created from images taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. R Coronae Australis lies at the heart of a nearby star-forming region and is surrounded by a delicate bluish reflection nebula embedded in a huge dust cloud. The image reveals surprising new details in this dramatic area of sky.
eso1026 — Science Release
VLT Detects First Superstorm on Exoplanet
23 June 2010: Astronomers have measured a superstorm for the first time in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, the well-studied “hot Jupiter” HD209458b. The very high-precision observations of carbon monoxide gas show that it is streaming at enormous speed from the extremely hot day side to the cooler night side of the planet. The observations also allow another exciting “first” — measuring the orbital speed of the exoplanet itself, providing a direct determination of its mass.
eso1025 — Photo Release
VISTA Views the Sculptor Galaxy
16 June 2010: A spectacular new image of the Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253) has been taken with the ESO VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile as part of one of its first major observational campaigns. By observing in infrared light VISTA’s view is less affected by dust and reveals a myriad of cooler stars as well as a prominent bar of stars across the central region. The VISTA image provides much new information on the history and development of the galaxy.
eso1024 — Science Release
Exoplanet Caught on the Move
10 June 2010: For the first time, astronomers have been able to directly follow the motion of an exoplanet as it moves from one side of its host star to the other. The planet has the smallest orbit so far of all directly imaged exoplanets, lying almost as close to its parent star as Saturn is to the Sun. Scientists believe that it may have formed in a similar way to the giant planets in the Solar System. Because the star is so young, this discovery proves that gas giant planets can form within discs in only a few million years, a short time in cosmic terms.
eso1023 — Organisation Release
New National Telescope at La Silla
8 June 2010: A new robotic telescope has had first light at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, in Chile. TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is devoted to the study of planetary systems through two approaches: the detection and characterisation of planets located outside the Solar System (exoplanets) and the study of comets orbiting around the Sun. The 60-cm telescope is operated from a control room in Liège, Belgium, 12 000 km away.
eso1022 — Organisation Release
ESO Telescope Designer Raymond Wilson Wins Prestigious Kavli Award for Astrophysics
4 June 2010: Raymond Wilson, whose pioneering optics research at ESO made today’s giant telescopes possible thanks to “active optics” technology, has been awarded the 2010 Kavli Prize in astrophysics. The founder and original leader of the Optics and Telescopes Group at ESO, Wilson shares the million-dollar prize with two American scientists, Jerry Nelson and Roger Angel.
eso1021 — Photo Release
A Cosmic Zoo in the Large Magellanic Cloud
1 June 2010: Astronomers often turn their telescopes to the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the closest galaxies to our own Milky Way, in their quest to understand the Universe. In this spectacular new image from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, a celestial menagerie of different objects and phenomena in part of the LMC is on display, ranging from vast globular clusters to the remains left by brilliant supernovae explosions. This fascinating observation provides data for a wide variety of research projects unravelling the life and death of stars and the evolution of galaxies.
eso1020 — Photo Release
Clear New View of a Classic Spiral
19 May 2010: ESO is releasing a beautiful image of the nearby galaxy Messier 83 taken by the HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The picture shows the galaxy in infrared light and demonstrates the impressive power of the camera to create one of the sharpest and most detailed pictures of Messier 83 ever taken from the ground.
eso1019 — Photo Release
A Cluster and a Sea of Galaxies
5 May 2010: A new wide-field image released today by ESO displays many thousands of distant galaxies, and more particularly a large group belonging to the massive galaxy cluster known as Abell 315. As crowded as it may appear, this assembly of galaxies is only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”, as Abell 315 — like most galaxy clusters — is dominated by dark matter. The huge mass of this cluster deflects light from background galaxies, distorting their observed shapes slightly.
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