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12/07/17 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.

06/07/17 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 energy.

26/05/17 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 kilometers).

08/04/17 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 process too.

05/02/17 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 Aquarius.

05/01/17 Hidden Secrets of Orion’s Clouds

The most detailed view of Orion A molecular cloud in near-infrared.
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.

22/12/16 New receivers improve ALMA’s ability to search for water in the Universe

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.

03/11/16 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.

19/10/16 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.

16/09/16 Starving Black 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.

25/08/16 Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star

Pale Red Dot campaign reveals Earth-mass world in orbit around Proxima Centauri.
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.

28/07/16 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.

14/07/16 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.

26/05/16 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.

19/05/16 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.

02/04/16 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.

10/03/16 VLTI finds discs around aging stars similar to those around young ones

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.

26/02/16 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.

04/02/16 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.

13/01/16 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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