ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive astronomical observatory. It operates three sites in Chile — La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor — on behalf of its fifteen member states. It builds ALMA together with international partners, and designs the European Extremely Large Telescope.
VLT Spots Largest Yellow Hypergiant Star — Mix of new and old observations reveals exotic binary system
ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has revealed the largest yellow star — and one of the ten largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over sixty years, some from amateur observers, also indicate that this rare and remarkable object is changing very rapidly and has been caught during a very brief phase of its life.
Crashing Comets Explain Surprise Gas Clump Around Young Star — ALMA reveals an enigmatic gas clump in debris disc around Beta Pictoris
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile have today announced the discovery of an unexpected clump of carbon monoxide gas in the dusty disc around the star Beta Pictoris. This is a surprise, as such gas is expected to be rapidly destroyed by starlight. Something — probably frequent collisions between small, icy objects such as comets — must be causing the gas to be continuously replenished. The new results are published today in the journal Science.
A new innovative instrument called MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) has been successfully installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. MUSE has observed distant galaxies, bright stars and other test targets during the first period of very successful observations.
A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky — making it an important astronomical research target.
ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid’s formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.
About the ESO Science Outreach Network
The ESO education and Public Outreach Department has established a network of persons in the ESO Member states and other countries who serve as local contacts for the media in connection with ESO developments, Press Releases, etc. At the same time, they may help to provide useful contacts between the media and the scientists in their area. The ESON members, or their representatives, are typically full-time science communicators who know the national players (media, academia etc.) and regularly interact with them, are able to find a national angle, have a strong interest in promoting ESO and provide regular inputs and ideas for how to best reach the target groups in their area. More precisely, their mission is: "To act as ESO's media and outreach representative in the member states and potential member states with the general aim of promoting ESO's mission and demonstrating the many inspirational aspects of astronomy".
Contact in the U.K.
Science and Technology Facilities Council
North Star Avenue
Wilts SN2 1SZ
Lucy Stone is a press officer for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), one of the UK’s leading research organisations. STFC runs the UK Astronomy Technology Centre and RAL Space, funds astronomy research in the UK, and manages the UK subscription to ESO.
Lucy has a background in journalism, working for both commercial and BBC radio. As a reporter and newsreader, she has covered a wide variety of stories including football matches and pop concerts. She knows what makes a great story!
Promoting astronomy research and STFC’s astronomy outreach activities are an important part of Lucy’s job.
In September 2011, she led a highly successful visit for UK journalists to Chile that coincided with first light on the ALMA telescope. The visit generated extremely high levels of media coverage in the UK and around the world. She is still talking about the trip!
Lucy leads media activity for the Dark Sky Discovery project, a national initiative to encourage community groups around the UK to find a local space where they can observe the night sky. Led by the STFC, the project brings together local astronomy clubs with Natural England to encourage more people to experience the wonders of the Universe.