Press Releases

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eso1216 — Science Release
ALMA Reveals Workings of Nearby Planetary System
12 April 2012: A new observatory still under construction has given astronomers a major breakthrough in understanding a nearby planetary system and provided valuable clues about how such systems form and evolve. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that planets orbiting the star Fomalhaut must be much smaller than originally thought. This is the first published science result from ALMA in its first period of open observations for astronomers worldwide.
eso1215 — Organisation Release
ESO Expands its Headquarters
4 April 2012: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has contracted architects Auer+Weber to design an extension to its Headquarters at Garching bei München, Germany. The innovatively styled new office building will help to house the growing number of Garching staff, and be the cradle of the technological innovations needed for ESO’s ambitious projects such as the European Extremely Large Telescope. With construction expected to be completed by the end of 2013, the expanded ESO Headquarters will contribute greatly to the development of the Garching research campus.
eso1214 — Science Release
Many Billions of Rocky Planets in the Habitable Zones around Red Dwarfs in the Milky Way
28 March 2012: A new result from ESO’s HARPS planet finder shows that rocky planets not much bigger than Earth are very common in the habitable zones around faint red stars. The international team estimates that there are tens of billions of such planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and probably about one hundred in the Sun’s immediate neighbourhood. This is the first direct measurement of the frequency of super-Earths around red dwarfs, which account for 80% of the stars in the Milky Way.
eso1213 — Photo Release
VISTA Stares Deep into the Cosmos
21 March 2012: ESO's VISTA telescope has created the widest deep view of the sky ever made using infrared light. This new picture of an unremarkable patch of sky comes from the UltraVISTA survey and reveals more than 200 000 galaxies. It forms just one part of a huge collection of fully processed images from all the VISTA surveys that is now being made available by ESO to astronomers worldwide. UltraVISTA is a treasure trove that is being used to study distant galaxies in the early Universe as well as for many other science projects.
eso1212 — Science Release
The Feeding Habits of Teenage Galaxies
14 March 2012: New observations made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope are making a major contribution to understanding the growth of adolescent galaxies. In the biggest survey of its kind astronomers have found that galaxies changed their eating habits during their teenage years - the period from about 3 to 5 billion years after the Big Bang. At the start of this phase smooth gas flow was the preferred snack, but later, galaxies mostly grew by cannibalising other smaller galaxies.
eso1211 — Photo Release
Galaxies Get Up Close and Personal
7 March 2012: The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has imaged a fascinating collection of interacting galaxies in the Hercules galaxy cluster. The sharpness of the new picture, and the hundreds of galaxies captured in great detail in less than three hours of observations, attest to the great power of the VST and its huge camera OmegaCAM to explore the nearby Universe.
eso1210 — Science Release
VLT Rediscovers Life on Earth
29 February 2012: By observing the Moon using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have found evidence of life in the Universe — on Earth. Finding life on our home planet may sound like a trivial observation, but the novel approach of an international team may lead to future discoveries of life elsewhere in the Universe. The work is described in a paper to appear in the 1 March 2012 issue of the journal Nature.
eso1209 — Photo Release
APEX Turns its Eye to Dark Clouds in Taurus
15 February 2012: A new image from the APEX (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment) telescope in Chile shows a sinuous filament of cosmic dust more than ten light-years long. In it, newborn stars are hidden, and dense clouds of gas are on the verge of collapsing to form yet more stars. It is one of the regions of star formation closest to us. The cosmic dust grains are so cold that observations at wavelengths of around one millimetre, such as these made with the LABOCA camera on APEX, are needed to detect their faint glow.
eso1208 — Photo Release
VLT Takes Most Detailed Infrared Image of the Carina Nebula
8 February 2012: ESO’s Very Large Telescope has delivered the most detailed infrared image of the Carina Nebula stellar nursery taken so far. Many previously hidden features, scattered across a spectacular celestial landscape of gas, dust and young stars, have emerged. This is one of the most dramatic images ever created by the VLT.
eso1207 — Photo Release
A Pocket of Star Formation
1 February 2012: This new view shows a stellar nursery called NGC 3324. It was taken using the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The intense ultraviolet radiation from several of NGC 3324's hot young stars causes the gas cloud to glow with rich colours and has carved out a cavity in the surrounding gas and dust.
eso1206 — Science Release
The Wild Early Lives of Today's Most Massive Galaxies
25 January 2012: Using the APEX telescope, a team of astronomers has found the strongest link so far between the most powerful bursts of star formation in the early Universe, and the most massive galaxies found today. The galaxies, flowering with dramatic starbursts in the early Universe, saw the birth of new stars abruptly cut short, leaving them as massive — but passive — galaxies of aging stars in the present day. The astronomers also have a likely culprit for the sudden end to the starbursts: the emergence of supermassive black holes.
eso1205 — Photo Release
The Helix in New Colours
19 January 2012: ESO’s VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, has captured a striking new image of the Helix Nebula. This picture, taken in infrared light, reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are invisible in images taken in visible light, as well as bringing to light a rich background of stars and galaxies.
eso1204 — Science Release
Planet Population is Plentiful
11 January 2012: An international team, including three astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), has used the technique of gravitational microlensing to measure how common planets are in the Milky Way. After a six-year search that surveyed millions of stars, the team concludes that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception. The results will appear in the journal Nature on 12 January 2012.
eso1203 — Science Release
El Gordo — A “Fat” Distant Galaxy Cluster
10 January 2012: An extremely hot, massive young galaxy cluster — the largest ever seen in the distant Universe — has been studied by an international team using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert in Chile along with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. The new results are being announced on 10 January 2012 at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.
eso1202 — Organisation Release
ESO Celebrates 50 Years of Reaching New Heights in Astronomy
5 January 2012: The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in the world. The anniversary year is an opportunity to look back at ESO’s history, celebrate its scientific and technological achievements and look forward to its next ambitious programmes. ESO is planning several exciting activities during the year.
eso1201 — Photo Release
The Smoky Pink Core of the Omega Nebula
4 January 2012: A new image of the Omega Nebula, captured by ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), is one of the sharpest of this object ever taken from the ground. It shows the dusty, rose-coloured central parts of this famous stellar nursery and reveals extraordinary detail in the cosmic landscape of gas clouds, dust and newborn stars.
eso1153 — Photo Release
Christmas Comet Lovejoy Captured at Paranal
24 December 2011: The recently discovered Comet Lovejoy has been captured in stunning photos and time-lapse video taken from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The comet graced the southern sky after it had unexpectedly survived a close encounter with the Sun.
eso1152 — Photo Release
A Galaxy Blooming with New Stars
15 December 2011: The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) has captured the beauty of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 253. The new portrait is probably the most detailed wide-field view of this object and its surroundings ever taken. It demonstrates that the VST, the newest telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory, provides broad views of the sky while also offering impressive image sharpness.
eso1151 — Science Release
A Black Hole's Dinner is Fast Approaching
14 December 2011: Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a gas cloud with several times the mass of the Earth accelerating fast towards the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. This is the first time ever that the approach of such a doomed cloud to a supermassive black hole has been observed. The results will be published in the 5 January 2012 issue of the journal Nature.
eso1150 — Organisation Release
The E-ELT Moves Closer to Reality
9 December 2011: The governing body of the European Southern Observatory, the ESO Council, has approved ESO’s budget for 2012. This includes preparatory work on the road to the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) site at Cerro Armazones and the start of development of some very challenging optical components for the telescope. With several ESO Member States now having committed their part of the required additional funding, the final approval for the whole E-ELT programme is expected in mid-2012.
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