Press Releases

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eso1341 — Photo Release
The Cool Glow of Star Formation
25 September 2013: A new instrument called ArTeMiS has been successfully installed on APEX — the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment. APEX is a 12-metre diameter telescope located high in the Atacama Desert, which operates at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum — providing a valuable tool for astronomers to peer further into the Universe. The new camera has already delivered a spectacularly detailed view of the Cat’s Paw Nebula.
eso1340 — Photo Release
Young Stars Cooking in the Prawn Nebula
18 September 2013: The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in this new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.
eso1339 — Science Release
The Peanut at the Heart of our Galaxy
12 September 2013: Two groups of astronomers have used data from ESO telescopes to make the best three-dimensional map yet of the central parts of the Milky Way. They have found that the inner regions take on a peanut-like, or X-shaped, appearance from some angles. This odd shape was mapped by using public data from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope along with measurements of the motions of hundreds of very faint stars in the central bulge.
eso1338 — Science Release
Bizarre Alignment of Planetary Nebulae
4 September 2013: Astronomers have used ESO's New Technology Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to explore more than 100 planetary nebulae in the central bulge of our galaxy. They have found that butterfly-shaped members of this cosmic family tend to be mysteriously aligned — a surprising result given their different histories and varied properties.
eso1337 — Science Release
Oldest Solar Twin Identified
28 August 2013: An international team led by astronomers in Brazil has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to identify and study the oldest solar twin known to date. Located 250 light-years from Earth, the star HIP 102152 is more like the Sun than any other solar twin — except that it is nearly four billion years older. This older, but almost identical, twin gives us an unprecedented chance to see how the Sun will look when it ages. The new observations also provide an important first clear link between a star’s age and its lithium content, and in addition suggest that HIP 102152 may be host to rocky terrestrial planets.
eso1336 — Photo Release
ALMA Takes Close Look at Drama of Starbirth
20 August 2013: Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have obtained a vivid close-up view of material streaming away from a newborn star. By looking at the glow coming from carbon monoxide molecules in an object called Herbig-Haro 46/47 they have discovered that its jets are even more energetic than previously thought. The very detailed new images have also revealed a previously unknown jet pointing in a totally different direction.
eso1335 — Photo Release
The Odd Couple
7 August 2013: ESO’s Very Large Telescope has captured an intriguing star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud — one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies. This sharp image reveals two distinctive glowing clouds of gas: red-hued NGC 2014, and its blue neighbour NGC 2020. While they are very different, they were both sculpted by powerful stellar winds from extremely hot newborn stars that also radiate into the gas, causing it to glow brightly.
eso1334 — Science Release
Starburst to Star Bust
24 July 2013: New observations from the ALMA telescope in Chile have given astronomers the best view yet of how vigorous star formation can blast gas out of a galaxy and starve future generations of stars of the fuel they need to form and grow. The dramatic images show enormous outflows of molecular gas ejected by star-forming regions in the nearby Sculptor Galaxy. These new results help to explain the strange paucity of very massive galaxies in the Universe. The study is published in the journal Nature on 25 July 2013.
eso1333 — Science Release
Snow in an Infant Planetary System
18 July 2013: A snow line has been imaged in a far-off infant planetary system for the very first time. The snow line, located in the disc around the Sun-like star TW Hydrae, promises to tell us more about the formation of planets and comets, the factors that decide their composition, and the history of the Solar System. The results are published today in Science Express.
eso1332 — Science Release
Ripped Apart by a Black Hole
17 July 2013: New observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope show for the first time a gas cloud being ripped apart by the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. The cloud is now so stretched that its front part has passed the closest point and is travelling away from the black hole at more than 10 million km/h, whilst the tail is still falling towards it.
eso1331 — Science Release
ALMA Prenatal Scan Reveals Embryonic Monster Star
10 July 2013: New observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array (ALMA) have given astronomers the best view yet of a monster star in the process of forming within a dark cloud. A stellar womb with over 500 times the mass of the Sun has been found — the largest ever seen in the Milky Way — and it is still growing. The embryonic star within the cloud is hungrily feeding on material that is racing inwards. The cloud is expected to give birth to a very brilliant star with up to 100 times the mass of the Sun.
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.
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