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eso9626 — Photo Release
20 May 1996: The active phase of Astronomy On-Line will start on October 1 and reach a climax on November 18 - 22, 1996. A new and unknown comet was discovered by Robert Evans on a photographic plate, obtained by M. J. Drinkwater on May 10, 1996, with the UK Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Australia. More observations were made within the next days and the comet was soon given the designation 'Comet 1996 J1' (i.e. the first comet to be found in the period May 1 - 15, 1996). Following astronomical tradition, it was also named after the discoverers.
eso9625 — Photo Release
18 April 1996: On April 12, two observers in Australia and Japan independently reported the sudden appearance of a supernova in the southern elliptical galaxy NGC 5061, a prominent object in the Centaurus constellation (IAUC 6380). The magnitude was about 13 (visual) and the exact position was measured as R.A. = 13h 18m 01.13s, Decl. = -26d 50m 45.3s (equinox 2000.0), or about 52 arcsec west and 31 arcsec south of the galaxy's center.
eso9624 — Photo Release
eso9623 — Photo Release
19 March 1996: The most recent ESO observations of bright Comet Hyakutake have shown rapid changes in the innermost coma, within a few hundred kilometres from the cometary nucleus. This result has only become possible because of the unusual combination of a bright comet being near the Earth, together with the excellent imaging quality of the ESO 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT).
eso9622 — Photo Release
eso9621 — Photo Release
15 March 1996: Following recent observations at the ESO La Silla Observatory, there is now no doubt that Comet Hyakutake - as hoped - is developing into a major object! In any case, the observed, very complex structure as well as the extent of the tail system is typical of a bright and beautiful comet.
eso9620 — Photo Release
13 March 1996: A complete, optical spectrum of Comet Hyakutake was obtained with the ESO 1.52-m telescope (La Silla Observatory) by Hilmar Duerbeck (ESO) on UT March 8.3, 1996. For this observation, the Boller & Chivens spectrograph with a new UV-sensitive CCD chip was used. The subsequent data reduction was performed by the observer and Stefano Benetti (ESO) at ESO's office in Santiago de Chile.
eso9619 — Science Release
7 March 1996: A bright 'new' star was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yukio Sakurai in late February 1996. It is located in the star-rich, southern constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer) and qualifies to join an extremely select class of stars. In fact, we know only one additional object of this type and the remains of two - possibly three - others. Compared to the 6000 stars in the sky seen with the naked eye, the several millions so far catalogued, and the billions of stars photographed, it is a very special class indeed. Nevertheless, Sakurai's star holds unique information about a dramatic evolutionary state, which all stars must to pass through whose masses are more than a few times that of the Sun, but still too small to produce a supernova explosion. This happens just before they end their active life and cool down into visual oblivion.
eso9618 — Science Release
6 March 1996: With the help of a new and more sensitive receiver, recently installed on the 15-metre Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST) at the European Southern Observatory on the La Silla mountain in Chile, a team of European astronomers  has succeeded in discovering the first extra-galactic silicon-monoxide (SiO) maser . It is located in the atmosphere of the largest known star in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. This observational feat now opens new, exciting possibilities for the study of individual stars in other galaxies in the Local Group. The continued search for extra-galactic SiO masers is a joint project of European and Australian astronomers, to be carried on with even more advanced instruments that will become available in the near future.
eso9617 — Photo Release
4 March 1996: This is the most detailed image so far obtained of the complex tail system of Comet Hyakutake. It was obtained with the ESO 1-m Schmidt telescope at La Silla on February 28.36 UT under good observing conditions by ESO night assistant Oscar Pizarro. The exposure lasted 60 min and was made on sensitized Kodak Pan 4415 film behind a GG385 filtre. This emulsion/filtre combination allows to record a broad spectral interval (3900-7000 A) whereby faint structures are better seen. However, detailed spectral information, by which the emitters may be identified, is lost for the same reason.
eso9616 — Photo Release
4 March 1996: Spectra of Comet Hyakutake were obtained at the ESO La Silla Observatory on February 29.3 UT by Klaus Simon (Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Munich, Germany) and Chris Lidman (ESO-Chile). They used the Danish 1.54-m telescope with the multi-mode DFOSC instrument and a large CCD. The slit was centred on the brightest part of the cometary coma. The frames were reduced by S. Benetti (ESO-Chile).
eso9615 — Photo Release
2 March 1996: These false-colour images are reproductions from a short-exposure CCD frame, obtained with the Danish 1.54-metre telescope and the DFOSC instrument with a 2052 x 2052 pix Loral/Lesser CCD. They show the innermost coma of Comet Hyakutake and the pronounced asymmetry of the dust distribution around the nucleus.
eso9614 — Photo Release
21 February 1996: During the first weeks following its discovery on January 31, 1996, Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) has gradually brightened from magnitude 11-12 to 8. As it moves nearer to the Sun and is headed for a close approach to the Earth in late March 1996, the observers continue to describe it as diffuse, with a central condensation, but no typical comet tails were seen so far.
eso9613 — Organisation Release
16 February 1996: In the early morning of January 31, 1996, Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake made his second comet discovery within five weeks. He found the new comet near the border between the southern constellations of Hydra (The Water-Snake) and Libra (The Scales), amazingly just three degrees from the position where he detected another comet on December 26, 1995.
eso9612 — Photo Release
eso9611 — Photo Release
11 February 1996: This diagramme shows the first spectrum obtained of comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake), which is expected to pass near the Earth in late March 1996. It was taken by Tomaz Zwitter, visiting astronomer at the ESO La Silla Observatory from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It has been flux- [(erg/s/cm2/A) within 2x14 arcsecond slit centered on comet] and wavelength- [Angstrom] calibrated.
eso9610 — Photo Release
eso9609 — Photo Release
9 February 1996: This false-colour image of Comet Hale-Bopp is the first to be obtained with a major astronomical telescope after the recent conjunction with the Sun. At the time of this observation, the comet was located in the southern constellation of Sagittarius, and only 32 degrees from the Sun.
eso9608 — Photo Release
eso9607 — Science Release
ENACS Survey of Southern Galaxies Indicates Open Universe — New Light on Rich Clusters of Galaxies and their Formation History
9 February 1996: In the context of a comprehensive Key-Programme , carried out with telescopes at the ESO La Silla Observatory, a team of European astronomers . has recently obtained radial velocities for more than 5600 galaxies in about 100 rich clusters of galaxies. With this programme the amount of information about the motions of galaxies (the kinematical data) in such clusters has almost been doubled. This has allowed the team to study the distribution of the cluster masses, and also the dynamical state of clusters in new and interesting ways.
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