Press Releases

Subscribe to esonews mailing list.
eso9719 — Science Release
Hints About Dark, Light-Bending Matter in the Distant Universe
25 July 1997: About 20 cases of gravitationally lensed (GL) quasars are known. This special physical effect, also known as a cosmic mirage, occurs when the rays of light of a distant quasar on their way to us pass near a massive object, for instance a galaxy. As a result, two or more images of the same quasar will be seen near each other. This phenomenon is described in more detail in the Appendix. A new study by a group of three European astronomers, headed by Frederic Courbin ( Institut d'Astrophysique, Universite de Liege, Belgium, and Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France) [1], has led to the discovery of the object responsible for the double images of a remote quasar in the gravitational lens HE 1104-1805 . The investigation is based on infrared observations at the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile and the `lensing system' turns out to be a distant, massive galaxy. Nevertheless, the geometry of the object is unusual and an additional gravitational lens of `dark' (invisible) matter may possibly be involved.
eso9718 — Science Release
Discovery of a Satellite Around a Near-Earth Asteroid
22 July 1997: In the course of the major observational programme of asteroids by the Institute of Planetary Exploration of the German Aerospace Research Establishment (DLR) [1] in Berlin, two of the staff astronomers, Stefano Mottola and Gerhard Hahn, have discovered a small satellite (moon) orbiting the asteroid (3671) Dionysus.
eso9717 — Organisation Release
Aerial View of the ESO Headquarters in Garching
17 July 1997: ESO Press Photo eso9717a shows a recent aerial view of the modernistic building of the ESO Headquarters in the town of Garching, some 15 kilometres north of Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Germany.
eso9716 — Organisation Release
New Views of the Paranal Observatory
17 July 1997: The following seven photos are part of an extensive series that was obtained in mid-June 1997. The first three are aerial views which demonstrate the good progress of the extensive work at the top of the mountain where the four large enclosures for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes, the interferometric tunnel system and the control building are now steadily approaching completion.
eso9715 — Organisation Release
ISAAC and SOFI: New Infrared Instruments for ESO Telescopes
17 June 1997: On this photo, two major astronomical instruments equipped with state of the art infrared array detectors are seen undergoing final integration and testing at the Assembly Laboratory at the ESO Headquarters (Garching, Germany) prior to being shipped to the ESO observatories in Chile. It was obtained a few days after a visit to this laboratory by the ESO Council at the time of its June 1997 meeting in Garching.
eso9714 — Photo Release
New Detailed Image of the Disk around Beta Pictoris
11 June 1997: This new and very detailed image of the famous circumstellar disk around the southern star Beta Pictoris was obtained with the ESO ADONIS adaptive optics system at the 3.6-m telescope and the Observatoire de Grenoble coronograph . It shows (in false colours) the scattered light at wavelength 1.25 micron (J band) and is one of the best images of this interesting feature obtained so far.
eso9713 — Organisation Release
ESO in Chile - An Eye on Telescopes and People
2 June 1997: Hans Hermann Heyer, professional ESO photographer at the Education and Public Relations Department in Garching, has prepared a remarkable exhibition of 45 photographs he obtained during two visits to ESO-Chile in 1996. It is on display at the ESO Headquarters until July 10, 1997.
eso9712 — Organisation Release
Recent Photos from the Paranal Observatory Illustrate Rapid VLT Progress
2 June 1997: The installation of the ESO Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama desert is proceeding rapidly. The moment of first light of the first 8.2-metre telescope is getting closer and activities in Paranal and at the ESO Headquarters in Garching are becoming ever more intense.
eso9711 — Organisation Release
The Giant Coating Plant for the ESO VLT
16 May 1997: In August 1995, the European Southern Observatory signed a contract with Linde A.G. (Germany), for the supply of the coating unit for the giant mirrors of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). Together with the main subcontractors, BOC coating technology (UK) , and Deggendorfer Werft (Germany), Linde has meanwhile completed the development, construction and pre-commissioning of the coating unit in Deggendorf, a town located at the Danube River, some 150 km northeast of Munich.
eso9710 — Organisation Release
Scientific Papers in the Paranal Time Capsule
12 May 1997: ESO Messenger no. 87 (March 1997) contains information (on Page 5) about the content of the Time Capsule, deposited by President Frei of the Republic of Chile on December 4, 1996, in the wall of VLT Enclosure no. 1. This capsule, an aluminium cylinder of 15 cm diameter and 45 centimeter long, was filled with nitrogen gas and sealed hermetically. A commemorative plaque was fixed in front of the cavity. In addition to the various items listed below, the capsule also contains a list of contents etched on a metal plate which will survive virtually indefinitely in this environment, while it cannot be excluded that the papers may deteriorate with time.
eso9709 — Science Release
A Faint and Lonely Brown Dwarf in the Solar Vicinity
28 April 1997: Brown Dwarfs are star-like objects which are too small to become real stars, yet too large to be real planets. Their mass is too small to ignite those nuclear processes which are responsible for the large energies and high temperatures of stars, but it is much larger than that of the planets we know in our solar system. Until now, very few Brown Dwarfs have been securely identified as such. Two are members of double-star systems, and a few more are located deep within the Pleiades star cluster. Now, however, Maria Teresa Ruiz of the Astronomy Department at Universidad de Chile (Santiago de Chile), using telescopes at the ESO La Silla observatory, has just discovered one that is all alone and apparently quite near to us. Contrary to the others which are influenced by other objects in their immediate surroundings, this new Brown Dwarf is unaffected and will thus be a perfect object for further investigations that may finally allow us to better understand these very interesting celestial bodies. It has been suggested that Brown Dwarfs may constitute a substantial part of the unseen dark matter in our Galaxy. This discovery may therefore also have important implications for this highly relevant research area.
eso9708 — Science Release
Discovery of a Circumstellar Disk in the Lagoon Nebula
9 April 1997: Circumstellar disks of gas and dust play a crucial role in the formation of stars and planets. Until now, high-resolution images of such disks around young stars within the Orion Nebula obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) constituted the most direct proof of their existence. Now, another circumstellar disk has been detected around a star in the Lagoon Nebula - also known as Messier 8 (M8) , a giant complex of interstellar gas and dust with many young stars in the southern constellation of Sagittarius and four times more distant than the Orion Nebula. The observations were carried out by an international team of scientists led by Bringfried Stecklum (Thüringer Landessternwarte, Tautenburg, Germany) [1] who used telescopes located at the ESO La Silla observatory and also observations from the HST archive. These new results are paving the road towards exciting research programmes on star formation which will become possible with the ESO Very Large Telescope.
eso9707 — Organisation Release
A power plant for the VLT
20 March 1997: These photos show one of the three generating sets (08a/97 and 08b/97) that will constitute the electric power station of the ESO Paranal Observatory of the Very Large Telescope Observatory (VLT).
eso9706 — Science Release
The Biggest Star in the Sky
11 March 1997: An international team of astronomers has used large telescopes in Chile and Australia to measure the biggest star in the sky. The star, designated R Doradus , is of the so-called red giant type and is located in the southern constellation of Dorado. Its apparent diameter (i.e., the size which the star appears to have when seen from the Earth) is larger than any other so far observed, except for the Sun. In particular, it exceeds by more than 30 % that of Betelgeuse , which for the past 75 years has held the title of star with the largest apparent size.
eso9705 — Organisation Release
Bavarian Prime Minister at La Silla
5 March 1997: In the afternoon of March 9, 1997, the Bavarian Prime Minister, Dr. Edmund Stoiber, on the invitation of the Director General of ESO, Professor Riccardo Giacconi, visited the ESO La Silla Observatory, located in an isolated area in the Atacama desert some 600 km north of the Chilean capital.
eso9704 — Organisation Release
ESO Successfully Tests Automation of Telescope Operations
28 February 1997: This week astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have tested a novel approach of doing astronomy from the ground. Inaugurating a new era, the ESO 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) at La Silla successfully performed a series of observations under automatic control by advanced computer software developed by the ESO Data Management Division (DMD) for use with the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). This move has been made necessary by technological improvements in telescopes and the increasing competition among scientists for these valuable resources.
eso9703 — Science Release
Unexplained Brightening of Unusual Star
15 January 1997: Recent observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) have documented an unexpected and rapid, seven-fold brightening of an unusual double star at the centre of the impressive 47 Tucanae globular cluster in the southern sky. This is the first HST observation of such a rare phenomenon. The astronomers [1] who are involved in this observational program find that this event cannot be explained by any of the common processes known to occur in such stars.
eso9702 — Science Release
Enigma of Runaway Stars Solved
14 January 1997: The following success story is a classical illustration of scientific progress through concerted interplay of observation and theory. It concerns a 35-year old mystery which has now been solved by means of exciting observations of a strange double star. An added touch is the successive involvement of astronomers connected to the European Southern Observatory.
eso9701 — Organisation Release
Paranal at Night
9 January 1997: This impressive nocturnal image of Cerro Paranal, the site of the ESO VLT Observatory, inaugurates the series of ESO Press Photos in 1997, a decisive year for the Very Large Telescope Project. Only one year now remains until first light will be obtained with the first of the giant 8.2-metre telescopes in the VLT array. Recent daytime aerial photos of Paranal are available as ESO Press Photos 40a+b/96.
eso9643 — Photo Release
Gas and Dust in Comet Hale-Bopp
23 December 1996: This series of four images shows the appearance of Comet Hale Bopp in early November 1996. At this time it was approaching the Sun in the sky, and these images are some of the last made by a major astronomical telescope in 1996. They were made by Hermann Boehnhardt of the Astronomical Institute of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich (Germany).