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Australia Enters Strategic Partnership with ESO
At a ceremony today in Canberra, an arrangement was signed to
begin a ten-year strategic partnership between ESO and
Australia. The partnership will further strengthen ESO’s
programme, both scientifically and technically, and will give
Australian astronomers and industry access to the La Silla
Paranal Observatory. It may also be the first step towards
Australia becoming an ESO Member State.
Dazzling Spiral with an Active Heart
Magnificent face-on view of the
barred spiral galaxy Messier 77. The image does justice to the
galaxy’s beauty, showcasing its glittering arms criss-crossed
with dust lanes.This impressive luminosity is caused by intense
radiation blasting out from a central engine — the accretion
disc surrounding a super massive black hole. Material that falls
towards the black hole is compressed and heated up to incredible
temperatures, causing it to radiate a tremendous amount of
A Whole New View of Jupiter
Among the findings that challenge assumptions are those provided
by Juno’s imager, JunoCam. The images show both of Jupiter's
poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling storms that are
densely clustered and rubbing together.Jupiter’s south pole, as
seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 52,000
ALMA views a stellar explosion in Orion
Unlike the spectacular death of stars associated with
supernovae, ALMA observations of the Orion Nebula complex
provides insights into explosions at the star birth end of the
stellar life cycle. Astronomers captured these dramatic images
of the remains of a 500-year-old explosion as they explored the
firework-like debris from the birth of a group of massive stars,
demonstrating that star formation can be a violent and explosive
Seven Earth-sized Worlds found around nearby star
Astronomers have found a system of seven Earth-sized planets
just 40 light-years away. Using ground and space telescopes,
including ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the planets were all
detected as they passed in front of their parent star, the
ultracool dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1 in the constellation of
Hidden Secrets of Orion’s Clouds
The most detailed view of Orion A molecular cloud in
A spectacular new image of the largest near-infrared
high-resolution mosaics of the Orion A molecular cloud, the
nearest known massive star factory, lying about 1350 light-years
from Earth. It was taken using the VISTA infrared survey
telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile and
reveals many young stars and other objects normally buried deep
inside the dusty clouds.
New receivers improve ALMA’s ability to search for water in the
Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile
has begun observing in a new range of the electromagnetic
spectrum. This has been made possible thanks to new receivers
installed at the telescope’s antennas, which can detect radio
waves with wavelengths from 1.4 to 1.8 millimetres — a range
previously untapped by ALMA. This upgrade allows astronomers to
detect faint signals of water in the nearby Universe.
Pillars of Destruction
Colourful Carina Nebula blasted by brilliant nearby stars
Spectacular new observations of vast pillar-like structures
within the Carina Nebula have been made using the MUSE
instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The different pillars
analysed 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 nature.
Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae
An international team of astronomers used the VLT to image the
Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved.
They found new and unexpected structures within the binary
system, including in the area between the two stars where
extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding. These new
insights into this enigmatic star system could lead to a better
understanding of the evolution of very massive stars.
Hole Returns Brilliant Galaxy to the Shadows
The mystery of a rare behavioural change in a super massive
black hole at the centre of a distant galaxy has been solved. It
seems that the black hole has fallen on hard times and is no
longer being fed enough fuel to make its surroundings shine.
Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star
Pale Red Dot campaign reveals Earth-mass world in orbit around
The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red
parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for
liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a
little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet
to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life
outside the Solar System.
White Dwarf Lashes Red Dwarf with Mystery Ray
In the system AR Scorpii, a rapidly spinning white dwarf star
powers electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high
energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the
companion red dwarf star, and cause the entire system to pulse
dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the
ultraviolet to radio.
Deepest Ever Look into Orion
ESO’s HAWK-I infrared instrument on
the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile has been used to peer
deeper into the heart of Orion Nebula than ever before. The
spectacular picture reveals about ten times as many brown dwarfs
and isolated planetary-mass objects than were previously known.
This discovery poses challenges for the widely accepted scenario
for Orion’s star formation history.
New 39 Metre E-ELT Dome and Telescope Structure being built
The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), with a main
mirror 39 metres in diameter, will be the largest
optical/near-infrared telescope in the world: truly the world’s
biggest eye on the sky. It will be constructed in northern
Chile, on a site that has already been prepared.
Gas cloud LHA 120-N55 in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Image from ESO’s (VLT), shows light from blazing blue stars
energising the gas left over from the stars’ recent formation.
The result is a strikingly colourful emission nebula, called LHA
120-N55, in which the stars are adorned with a mantle of glowing
gas. Astronomers study these beautiful displays to learn about
the conditions in places where new stars develop.
Most Detailed Image of a Protoplanetary Disc
ALMA’s best image of a protoplanetary disc to date. This picture
of the nearby young star TW Hydrae reveals the classic rings and
gaps that signify planets are in formation in this system.
VLTI finds discs around aging stars similar to those around
ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has obtained the sharpest
view ever of the dusty disc around an aging star. For the first
time such features can be compared to those around young stars —
and they look surprisingly similar. It is even possible that a
disc appearing at the end of a star’s life might also create a
second generation of planets.
ATLASGAL Survey of Milky Way Completed
The APEX telescope in Chile has mapped the full area of the
Galactic Plane visible from the southern hemisphere at
submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio
waves. This is the sharpest such map yet made, and complements
those from recent space-based surveys.
The Deep-Frozen Flying Saucer
Astronomers have made the first direct measurement of
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 are much colder than expected:
−266 degrees Celsius. This surprising result suggests that
models of these discs may need to be revised.
First Light For Future Black Hole Probe
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 using all four Auxiliary Telescopes. During
these initial tests, the instrument has already achieved a
number of notable firsts. This is the most powerful VLT
Interferometer instrument yet installed.
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