European Southern Observatory News

Astronomers Discover Unexpectedly Cold Grains in a Planet-Forming Disc

February 4, 2016

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Unexpectedly Cold Grains in Planet-Forming Disc Discovered

Using the ALMA and IRAM telescopes, a team of astronomers has made the first direct measurement of the temperature of the large dust grains in the outer parts of a planet-forming disc around a young star. By applying a novel technique to observations of an object nicknamed the Flying Saucer they find that the grains […]

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GRAVITY Instrument Reveals a New Double Star

January 13, 2016

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GRAVITY Discovers New Double Star in Orion Trapezium Cluster

The first observations with the new GRAVITY probe reveal that one of the components of the Trapezium Cluster (Theta1 Orionis F) is a double star. Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed instrument GRAVITY at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight […]

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ESOcast 79 Video Explores 20 Years of Exoplanets

December 24, 2015

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Astronomers Discover Jupiter-Like Exoplanet 51 Eridani b

This seven minute video from the European Southern Observatory details the discovery of exoplanets over the last twenty years. Not a single confirmed planet outside the Solar System had been detected before the year 1990. But, remarkably, we now know of thousands and have studied many in surprising detail. This ESOcast takes a look at […]

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ALMA Reveals New Evidence of Young Planets

December 21, 2015

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ALMA Views a Transitional Disc around a New Star

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, astronomers have found telltale differences between the gaps in the gas and the dust in discs around four young stars. These new observations are the clearest indications yet that planets with masses several times that of Jupiter have recently formed in these discs. Planets are found around nearly every […]

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Astronomers Use Galaxy Clusters to Shed Light on the Universe’s Dark Side

December 15, 2015

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Galaxy Clusters Shed Light on Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Astronomers hope that by studying the properties of galaxy clusters at different stages in the history of the Universe they can shed light on the dark matter and dark energy. ESO telescopes have provided an international team of astronomers with the gift of the third dimension in a plus-sized hunt for the largest gravitationally bound […]

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Detailed Images of the Hypergiant Star VY Canis Majoris

November 27, 2015

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VLT Image of Red Hypergiant VY Canis Majoris

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, at team of astronomers has captured the most detailed images ever of the hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris. These new observations show how the unexpectedly large size of the particles of dust surrounding the star enable it to lose an enormous amount of mass as it begins to die. This […]

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VISTA Survey Telescope Discovers Massive Galaxies in the Early Universe

November 19, 2015

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Astronomers Discover Massive Galaxies in the Early Universe

Using ESO’s VISTA Survey Telescope, astronomers have discovered a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. The discovery has allowed astronomers reveal exactly when such massive galaxies first appeared. Just counting the number of galaxies in a patch of sky provides a way to test astronomers’ theories […]

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VLT Maps Out the Shattered Remains of an Asteroid Around a White Dwarf

November 11, 2015

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VLT Views the Glowing Halo of a Zombie Star

Using the Very Large Telescope, an international team of astronomers has studied in detail for the first time the remains of a fatal interaction between a dead star and an asteroid. This gives a glimpse of the far-future fate of the Solar System. Led by Christopher Manser, a PhD student at the University of Warwick […]

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VISTA Telescope Discovers a New Component of Milky Way

November 5, 2015

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Astronomers Discover Hidden Feature of Milky Way

Using the VISTA telescope astronomers have discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way. By mapping out the locations of a class of stars that vary in brightness called Cepheids, a disc of young stars buried behind thick dust clouds in the central bulge has been found. The Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea […]

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ESO Image of the Week: SPHERE Reveals Spiral Disc Around Nearby Star

October 21, 2015

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SPHERE Reveals Spiral Disc Around Star HD 100453

This newly released ESO image shows a spiral disc around HD 100453, which is located 350 light-years away. ESO’s SPHERE, a planet-hunting instrument installed on the Very Large Telescope in Chile, has uncovered an unusual structure around a nearby adolescent star named HD 100453. HD 100453 lies over 350 light-years away in the constellation of […]

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Astronomers Discover VFTS 352 – The Hottest and Most Massive Touching Double Star System to Date

October 21, 2015

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Astronomers Reveal the Hottest and Most Massive Touching Double Star

A team of astronomers has discovered the hottest and most massive double star system to date where the two components are in contact and sharing material. This intriguing system could be heading for a dramatic end, either with the formation of a single giant star or as a future binary black hole. The double star […]

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New Close-Up View of the Coalsack Nebula

October 15, 2015

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A Close-Up View of the Coalsack Nebula

This newly released image from the European Southern Observatory shows a close-up view of the Coalsack Nebula. Dark smudges almost block out a rich star field in this new image captured by the Wide Field Imager camera, installed on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The inky areas are small […]

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ESO and Hubble Reveal Fast-Moving, Wave-Like Features in the Debris Disk Around AU Microscopii

October 11, 2015

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Hubble Reveals Unusual Structures in AU Microscopii

Using Hubble data and new images from SPHERE, astronomers have identified sub-structures and tracked changes within the debris disk that surrounds AU Microscopii. As many other stars, AU Microscopii is surrounded by a dust disk. Now researchers – including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg – have discovered unusual structures in […]

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ESO Image of the Week: A Microlensing Mystery

October 7, 2015

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ESO Image of the Week Globular Cluster NGC 6553

This newly released image from the European Southern Observatory shows the globular cluster NGC 6553. This spectacular starry field of view shows the globular cluster NGC 6553 which is located approximately 19,000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. In this field, astronomers discovered a mysterious microlensing event. Microlensing is a form of gravitational lensing […]

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ESO Captures New Image of Messier 17

September 23, 2015

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ESO Views Messier 17

This newly released ESO image shows the rose-colored star forming region Messier 17. This new image of the star forming region Messier 17 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is one of the sharpest images showing the entire nebula and not […]

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A Shy Galactic Neighbor – The Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy

September 16, 2015

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ESO Views the Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy

This new image from the Wide Field Imager camera on the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory shows the Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy, which is a close neighbor of the Milky Way. Despite their close proximity, both the Milky Way and the Sculptor Galaxy have very distinct histories and characters. The Sculptor Galaxy is […]

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ESO Gets a Close-Up Look at the Prawn Nebula

September 2, 2015

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ESO Views the Prawn Nebula

Using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope, astronomers get one of the best pictures ever taken of the stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula (also known as Gum 56 and IC 4628). Dominating this image is part of the gigantic nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions […]

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ESO Views the Ghost of a Dying Star – Planetary Nebula ESO 378-1

August 24, 2015

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New Image of Planetary Nebula ESO 378-1

A new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope provides the best view to date of planetary nebula ESO 378-1. This extraordinary bubble, glowing like the ghost of a star in the haunting darkness of space, may appear supernatural and mysterious, but it is a familiar astronomical object: a planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying […]

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