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eso1034 — Science Release
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
eso1018 — Organisation Release
26 April 2010: On 26 April 2010, the ESO Council selected Cerro Armazones as the baseline site for the planned 42-metre European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Cerro Armazones is a mountain at an altitude of 3060 metres in the central part of Chile’s Atacama Desert, some 130 kilometres south of the town of Antofagasta and about 20 kilometres from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope.
eso1017 — Photo Release
21 April 2010: The Cat’s Paw Nebula, NGC 6334, is a huge stellar nursery, the birthplace of hundreds of massive stars. In a magnificent new ESO image taken with the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the glowing gas and dust clouds obscuring the view are penetrated by infrared light and some of the Cat’s hidden young stars are revealed.
eso1016 — Science Release
13 April 2010: The discovery of nine new transiting exoplanets is announced today at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting (NAM2010). When these new results were combined with earlier observations of transiting exoplanets astronomers were surprised to find that six out of a larger sample of 27 were found to be orbiting in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star — the exact reverse of what is seen in our own Solar System. The new discoveries provide an unexpected and serious challenge to current theories of planet formation. They also suggest that systems with exoplanets of the type known as hot Jupiters are unlikely to contain Earth-like planets.
eso1015 — Science Release
7 April 2010: According to the first ever infrared analysis of the atmosphere of Neptune's moon Triton, summer is in full swing in its southern hemisphere. The European observing team used ESO's Very Large Telescope and discovered carbon monoxide and made the first ground-based detection of methane in Triton's thin atmosphere. These observations revealed that the thin atmosphere varies seasonally, thickening when warmed.
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