Press Releases 2013

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eso1330 — Science Release
Feeding Galaxy Caught in Distant Searchlight
4 July 2013: Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have spotted a distant galaxy hungrily snacking on nearby gas. Gas is seen to fall inwards towards the galaxy, creating a flow that both fuels star formation and drives the galaxy’s rotation. This is the best direct observational evidence so far supporting the theory that galaxies pull in and devour nearby material in order to grow and form stars. The results will appear in the 5 July 2013 issue of the journal Science.
eso1329 — Organisation Release
World Premiere of IMAX® 3D Film Hidden Universe
1 July 2013: The 3D production Hidden Universe has been released in IMAX® theatres and giant-screen cinemas around the globe, with world premieres on 28 June 2013 at Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and on 29 June at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark. The film shows state-of-the-art telescopes in high-resolution time-lapse, mesmerising 3D versions of celestial structures, and a 3D simulation of the evolution of the Universe.
eso1328 — Science Release
Three Planets in Habitable Zone of Nearby Star
25 June 2013: A team of astronomers has combined new observations of Gliese 667C with existing data from HARPS at ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope in Chile, to reveal a system with at least six planets. A record-breaking three of these planets are super-Earths lying in the zone around the star where liquid water could exist, making them possible candidates for the presence of life. This is the first system found with a fully packed habitable zone.
eso1327 — Science Release
Dusty Surprise Around Giant Black Hole
20 June 2013: ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has gathered the most detailed observations ever of the dust around the huge black hole at the centre of an active galaxy. Rather than finding all of the glowing dust in a doughnut-shaped torus around the black hole, as expected, the astronomers find that much of it is located above and below the torus. These observations show that dust is being pushed away from the black hole as a cool wind — a surprising finding that challenges current theories and tells us how supermassive black holes evolve and interact with their surroundings.
eso1326 — Science Release
New Kind of Variable Star Discovered
12 June 2013: Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-metre Euler telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness of stars in a cluster. The observations revealed previously unknown properties of these stars that defy current theories and raise questions about the origin of the variations.
eso1325 — Science Release
ALMA Discovers Comet Factory
6 June 2013: Astronomers using the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have imaged a region around a young star where dust particles can grow by clumping together. This is the first time that such a dust trap has been clearly observed and modelled. It solves a long-standing mystery about how dust particles in discs grow to larger sizes so that they can eventually form comets, planets and other rocky bodies. The results are published in the journal Science on 7 June 2013.
eso1324 — Science Release
Lightest Exoplanet Imaged So Far?
3 June 2013: A team of astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope has imaged a faint object moving near a bright star. With an estimated mass of four to five times that of Jupiter, it would be the least massive planet to be directly observed outside the Solar System. The discovery is an important contribution to our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary systems.
eso1323 — Science Release
Low Sodium Diet Key to Old Age for Stars
29 May 2013: Astronomers expect that stars like the Sun will blow off much of their atmospheres into space near the ends of their lives. But new observations of a huge star cluster made using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have shown — against all expectations — that a majority of the stars studied simply did not get to this stage in their lives at all. The international team found that the amount of sodium in the stars was a very strong predictor of how they ended their lives.
eso1322 — Photo Release
ESO's Very Large Telescope Celebrates 15 Years of Success
23 May 2013: With this new view of a spectacular stellar nursery ESO is celebrating 15 years of the Very Large Telescope — the world's most advanced optical instrument. This picture reveals thick clumps of dust silhouetted against the pink glowing gas cloud known to astronomers as IC 2944. These opaque blobs resemble drops of ink floating in a strawberry cocktail, their whimsical shapes sculpted by powerful radiation coming from the nearby brilliant young stars.
eso1321 — Photo Release
Orion's Hidden Fiery Ribbon
15 May 2013: This dramatic new image of cosmic clouds in the constellation of Orion reveals what seems to be a fiery ribbon in the sky. This orange glow represents faint light coming from grains of cold interstellar dust, at wavelengths too long for human eyes to see. It was observed by the ESO-operated Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) in Chile.
eso1320 — Photo Release
An Anarchic Region of Star Formation
2 May 2013: The Danish 1.54-metre telescope located at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has captured a striking image of NGC 6559, an object that showcases the anarchy that reigns when stars form inside an interstellar cloud.
eso1319 — Science Release
Einstein Was Right — So Far
25 April 2013: Astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope, along with radio telescopes around the world, to find and study a bizarre stellar pair consisting of the most massive neutron star confirmed so far, orbited by a white dwarf star. This strange new binary allows tests of Einstein’s theory of gravity — general relativity — in ways that were not possible up to now. So far the new observations exactly agree with the predictions from general relativity and are inconsistent with some alternative theories. The results will appear in the journal Science on 26 April 2013.
eso1318 — Science Release
ALMA Pinpoints Early Galaxies at Record Speed
17 April 2013: A team of astronomers has used the new ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) telescope to pinpoint the locations of over 100 of the most fertile star-forming galaxies in the early Universe. ALMA is so powerful that, in just a few hours, it captured as many observations of these galaxies as have been made by all similar telescopes worldwide over a span of more than a decade.
eso1317 — Photo Release
A Ghostly Green Bubble
10 April 2013: This intriguing new picture from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the glowing green planetary nebula IC 1295 surrounding a dim and dying star located about 3300 light-years away in the constellation of Scutum (The Shield). This is the most detailed picture of this object ever taken.
eso1316 — Photo Release
Young, Hot and Blue
27 March 2013: This pretty sprinkling of bright blue stars is the cluster NGC 2547, a group of recently formed stars in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sail). This image was taken using the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
eso1315 — Photo Release
Spiral Beauty Graced by Fading Supernova
20 March 2013: About 35 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Eridanus (The River), lies the spiral galaxy NGC 1637. Back in 1999 the serene appearance of this galaxy was shattered by the appearance of a very bright supernova. Astronomers studying the aftermath of this explosion with ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile have provided us with a stunning view of this relatively nearby galaxy.
eso1314 — Organisation Release
The Crown Prince Couple of Denmark visits ESO's Paranal Observatory
15 March 2013: On 14 March 2013 His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Denmark, accompanied by his wife, Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess, visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory, as part of an official visit to Chile. They were taken on a tour of ESO’s world-leading astronomical facilities on Paranal by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw.
eso1313 — Science Release
ALMA Rewrites History of Universe's Stellar Baby Boom
13 March 2013: Observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show that the most vigorous bursts of star birth in the cosmos took place much earlier than previously thought. The results are published in a set of papers to appear in the journal Nature on 14 March 2013, and in the Astrophysical Journal. The research is the most recent example of the discoveries coming from the new international ALMA observatory, which celebrates its inauguration today.
eso1312 — Organisation Release
ALMA Inauguration Heralds New Era of Discovery
13 March 2013: Today, in a remote part of the Chilean Andes, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), was inaugurated at an official ceremony. This event marks the completion of all the major systems of the giant telescope and the formal transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory. ALMA is a partnership between Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.
eso1311 — Science Release
Measuring the Universe More Accurately Than Ever Before
6 March 2013: After nearly a decade of careful observations an international team of astronomers has measured the distance to our neighbouring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, more accurately than ever before. This new measurement also improves our knowledge of the rate of expansion of the Universe — the Hubble Constant — and is a crucial step towards understanding the nature of the mysterious dark energy that is causing the expansion to accelerate. The team used telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile as well as others around the globe. These results appear in the 7 March 2013 issue of the journal Nature.
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