European Southern Observatory News

VLT Observations Reveal First Signs of a Strange Quantum Effect

November 30, 2016

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First Signs of Weird Quantum Property of Empty Space?

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarization of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence. A team led by Roberto Mignani from […]

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ESO Views Protoplanetary Discs Being Shaped by Newborn Planets

November 9, 2016

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ESO’s SPHERE Instrument Reveals Protoplanetary Discs Being Shaped by Newborn Planets

Using data from the SPHERE instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers reveal protoplanetary discs being shaped by newborn planets. Sharp new observations have revealed striking features in planet-forming discs around young stars. The SPHERE instrument, mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, has made it possible to observe the complex dynamics of young solar […]

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New Observations of the Vast Pillar-Like Structures within the Carina Nebula

November 2, 2016

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New-Pillars-of-Destruction-Images

Using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers reveal new observations of vast pillar-like structures within the Carina Nebula. The different pillars analyzed by an international team seem to be pillars of destruction — in contrast to the name of the iconic Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, which are of similar […]

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Astronomers Find Unexpected Giant Glowing Halos around Distant Quasars

October 26, 2016

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Unexpected Giant Glowing Halos around Distant Quasars Discovered

A new survey by the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope indicates that halos around quasars are far more common than expected. The properties of the halos in this surprising find are also in striking disagreement with currently accepted theories of galaxy formation in the early Universe. An international collaboration of astronomers, led by […]

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VLT Provides Highest Resolution Image to Date of Eta Carinae

October 19, 2016

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VLT Provides Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae

Using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, a team of astronomers reveals the Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved. High-resolution images reveal new and unexpected structures within the Eta Carinae binary system, including in the area between the two stars where extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding. These new insights into […]

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VISTA Finds Remains of Archaic Globular Star Cluster in The Milky Way

October 14, 2016

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VISTA Discovers Remains of Archaic Globular Star Cluster

Using ESO’s infrared VISTA telescope, astronomers have discovered ancient stars, of a type known as RR Lyrae, in the center of the Milky Way for the first time. RR Lyrae stars typically reside in ancient stellar populations over 10 billion years old. Their discovery suggests that the bulging center of the Milky Way likely grew […]

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ESO VISTA Telescope Reveals Hidden Stars in Messier 78

October 6, 2016

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VISTA Views Messier 78

ESO’s VISTA reveals stars that are just forming within the cosmic dust of Messier 78. In this new image of the nebula Messier 78, young stars cast a bluish pall over their surroundings, while red fledgling stars peer out from their cocoons of cosmic dust. To our eyes, most of these stars would be hidden […]

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Astronomers Explore the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

September 23, 2016

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New Images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, international teams of astronomers explore the distant corner of the Universe first revealed in the iconic images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). New ALMA observations are significantly deeper and sharper than previous surveys at millimeter wavelengths. They clearly show how the rate of star formation in young […]

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Astronomers Solve the Mystery of a Rare Change in the Behavior of a Supermassive Black Hole

September 16, 2016

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ESO Views Active Galaxy Markarian 1018

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope along with the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, a team of astronomers has solved the mystery of a rare change in the behavior of a supermassive black hole at the center of a distant galaxy. It seems that the black hole is no longer being fed enough fuel […]

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Astronomers Discover an Unusual Mix of Stars in Terzan 5

September 7, 2016

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Scientists Discover Rare Fossil Relic of Early Milky Way

An international team of astronomers has revealed the unusual mix of stars in the stellar cluster known as Terzan 5. The new results indicate that Terzan 5 is in fact one of the bulge’s primordial building blocks, most likely the relic of the very early days of the Milky Way. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope […]

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Why So Blue? ESO Views Spiral Galaxy Messier 98

September 6, 2016

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Spiral Galaxy Messier 98

This newly released image shows spiral galaxy Messier 98, which is located about 50 million light-years away. The color blue has many associations — coldness, sadness, serenity. However, the color holds a completely different meaning for astronomers, as demonstrated by the edge-on spiral galaxy Messier 98. Messier 98, also known as NGC 4192, is located […]

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ESOcast 87 – Astronomers Discuss Proxima b

September 1, 2016

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Planet Proxima b

In this six minute ESOcast video astronomers discuss the newly discovered Proxima b and the possibility of life outside our solar system. The Pale Red Dot campaign aimed to find a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri. Incredibly, the quest succeeded and the team did indeed find a planet. Even more excitingly, the […]

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Earth-Sized Planet Proxima b Might be Habitable

August 25, 2016

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Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star

Scientists reveal that a newly discovered, roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest neighboring star might be habitable. Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and […]

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New Deep View of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

July 25, 2016

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Low Surface Brightness Imaging of the Magellanic System

This newly released ESO image reveals a new view of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Each of the thousands of spots in this new image represents a distant star, and the glittering blue holes reveal glimpses of our neighboring galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Although this image looks as if it was […]

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ALMA Detects Water Snowline Around Young Star V883 Orionis

July 18, 2016

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Water Snowline Around Young Star V883 Orionis

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a team of astronomers has made the first ever resolved observation of a water snow line within a protoplanetary disc. This line marks where the temperature in the disc surrounding a young star drops sufficiently low for snow to form. A dramatic increase in the brightness of the […]

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Astronomers Prepare for the Arrival of Juno at Jupiter

June 29, 2016

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VLT Image of Jupiter

In preparation for the July arrival of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, astronomers used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to obtain new infrared images of Jupiter. They are part of a campaign to create high-resolution maps of the giant planet. These observations will inform the work to be undertaken by Juno over the coming months, helping astronomers to […]

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Astronomers Find an Unexpected Amount of Giant Planets in Star Cluster Messier 67

June 17, 2016

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Unexpected Excess of Giant Planets in Star Cluster Messier 67

A team of astronomers reveals that there are far more planets of the hot Jupiter type than expected in star cluster Messier 67. The surprising discovery was obtained using a number of telescopes and instruments, among them the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The denser environment in a cluster will cause […]

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ESO Views the Glowing Gas Cloud LHA 120-N55

May 20, 2016

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New ESO Image of the Colorful Emission Nebula LHA 120-N55

This newly released ESO image shows the glowing gas cloud LHA 120-N55 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. In this image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), light from blazing blue stars energises the gas left over from the stars’ recent formation. The result is a strikingly colourful emission nebula, called LHA 120-N55, in which the […]

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