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  • richardmitnick 4:37 pm on April 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO Paranal VLT   

    FRom ESO: “Two Galaxies for a Unique Event” 2009 


    European Southern Observatory

    4 April 2009
    Contacts

    Henri Boffin
    ESO
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6222
    Email: hboffin@eso.org

    Valentina Rodriguez
    ESO
    Chile
    Tel: +56 2 463 3123
    Email: vrodrigu@eso.org

    To celebrate the 100 Hours of Astronomy, ESO is sharing two stunning images of unusual galaxies, both belonging to the Sculptor group of galaxies. The images, obtained at two of ESO’s observatories at La Silla and Paranal in Chile, illustrate the beauty of astronomy.

    par
    Image of the irregular galaxy NGC 55 obtained with the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at ESO La Silla Observatory. The galaxy is about 7.5 million light-years away and 70,000 light-years across. The image is based on data obtained through B, V, and H-alpha filters. North is up, East to the left. The field of view is 30 arcminutes wide.

    ESO Wide Field Imager 2.2m LaSilla
    WFI

    ESO 2.2 meter telescope
    2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope

    ESO LaSilla
    LaSilla

    par
    Image of the chaotic spiral galaxy NGC 7793, observed with the FORS instrument attached to ESO’s Very Large Telescope at Paranal. The image is based on data obtained through B, V, I and H-alpha filters

    ESO FORS1
    FORS

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Paranal

    As part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone project, 100 Hours of Astronomy, the ambitious “Around the World in 80 Telescopes” event is a unique live webcast over 24 hours, following night and day around the globe to some of the most advanced observatories on and off the planet. To provide a long-lasting memory of this amazing world tour, observatories worldwide are revealing wonderful, and previously unseen, astronomical images. For its part, ESO is releasing outstanding pictures of two galaxies, observed with telescopes at the La Silla and Paranal observatories.

    The first of these depicts the irregular galaxy NGC 55, a member of the prominent Sculptor group of galaxies in the southern constellation of Sculptor. The galaxy is about 70 000 light-years across, that is, a little bit smaller than our own Milky Way. NGC 55 actually resembles more our galactic neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), although the LMC is seen face-on, whilst NGC 55 is edge-on.

    By studying about 20 planetary nebulae in this image, a team of astronomers found that NGC 55 is located about 7.5 million light-years away. They also found that the galaxy might be forming a bound pair with the gorgeous spiral galaxy NGC 300 . Planetary nebulae are the final blooming of Sun-like stars before their retirement as white dwarfs.

    This striking image of NGC 55, obtained with the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at La Silla, is dusted with a flurry of reddish nebulae, created by young, hot massive stars. Some of the more extended ones are not unlike those seen in the LMC, such as the Tarantula Nebula. The quality of the image is clearly demonstrated by the remarkable number of background galaxies seen, as well as the huge numbers of individual stars that can be counted within NGC 55.

    The second image shows another galaxy belonging to the Sculptor group. This is NGC 7793, which has a chaotic spiral structure, unlike the class of grand-design spiral galaxies to which our Milky Way belongs. The image shows how difficult it is to identify any particular spiral arm in these chaotic structures, although it is possible to guess at a general rotating pattern. NGC 7793 is located slightly further away than NGC 55, about 12.5 million light-years from us, and is about half the size of NGC 55.

    NGC 7793 was observed with one of the workhorses of the ESO Paranal Observatory, the FORS instrument, attached to the Very Large Telescope.
    Notes

    ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe. It is supported by 14 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO plays also a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in the Atacama Desert region of Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 6:06 pm on December 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “A Galaxy Full of Surprises — NGC 3621 is bulgeless but has three central black holes” 


    European Southern Observatory

    This image, from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), shows a truly remarkable galaxy known as NGC 3621. To begin with, it is a pure-disc galaxy. Like other spirals, it has a flat disc permeated by dark lanes of material and with prominent spiral arms where young stars are forming in clusters (the blue dots seen in the image). But while most spiral galaxies have a central bulge — a large group of old stars packed in a compact, spheroidal region — NGC 3621 doesn’t. In this image, it is clear that there is simply a brightening to the centre, but no actual bulge like the one in NGC 6744 (eso1118), for example.

    ngc3621
    NGC3621 by ESO’s VLT

    las
    Another view, this one taken by the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory

    NGC 3621 is also interesting as it is believed to have an active supermassive black hole at its centre that is engulfing matter and producing radiation. This is somewhat unusual because most of these so-called active galactic nuclei exist in galaxies with prominent bulges. In this particular case, the supermassive black hole is thought to have a relatively small mass, of around 20 000 times that of the Sun.

    Another interesting feature is that there are also thought to be two smaller black holes, with masses of a few thousand times that of the Sun, near the nucleus of the galaxy. Therefore, NGC 3621 is an extremely interesting object which, despite not having a central bulge, has a system of three black holes in its central region.

    This galaxy is located in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Snake) and can be seen with a moderate-sized telescope. This image, taken using B, V, and I filters with the FORS1 instrument on the powerful VLT, shows striking detail in this odd object and also reveals a multitude of background galaxies. A number of bright foreground stars that belong to our own Milky Way are also visible.

    ESO VLT
    ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT)

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO at La Silla

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 1:04 pm on November 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “The Topsy-Turvy Galaxy NGC 1313″ 


    European Southern Observatory

    The central parts of the starburst galaxy NGC 1313.

    ngc1313

    The very active state of this galaxy is very evident from the image, showing many star formation regions. A great number of supershell nebulae, that is, cocoon of gas inflated and etched by successive bursts of star formation, are visible. The green nebulosities are regions emitting in the ionised oxygen lines and may harbour clusters with very hot stars. This colour-composite is based on images obtained with the FORS1 instrument on one of the 8.2-m Unit Telescope of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, located at Cerro Paranal. The data were obtained in the night of 16 December 2003, through different broad- (R, B, and z) and narrow-band filters (H-alpha, OI, and OIII).

    fors
    Instrument-Control-Software for FoRS

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:55 am on November 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “A Fiery Drama of Star Birth and Death” 


    European Southern Observatory

    27 November 2013
    Contacts

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    The Large Magellanic Cloud is one of the closest galaxies to our own. Astronomers have now used the power of ESO’s Very Large Telescope to explore one of its lesser known regions. This new image shows clouds of gas and dust where hot new stars are being born and are sculpting their surroundings into odd shapes. But the image also shows the effects of stellar death — filaments created by a supernova explosion.

    lmc
    Large Magellanic Cloud

    ESO VLT
    ESO’s VLT

    Located only about 160 000 light-years from us (eso1311) in the constellation of Dorado (The Swordfish), the Large Magellanic Cloud is one of our closest galactic neighbours. It is actively forming new stars in regions that are so bright that some can even be seen from Earth with the naked eye, such as the Tarantula Nebula (eso1033). This new image, taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, explores an area called NGC 2035 (right), sometimes nicknamed the Dragon’s Head Nebula.

    tran
    The Tarantula Nebula, first light image of the TRAPPIST national telescope at La Silla Observatory

    NGC 2035 is an HII region, or emission nebula, consisting of clouds of gas that glow due to the energetic radiation given off by young stars. This radiation strips electrons from atoms within the gas, which eventually recombine with other atoms and release light. Mixed in with the gas are dark clumps of dust that absorb rather than emit light, creating weaving lanes and dark shapes across the nebula.

    The filamentary shapes to the left in the image are the not the results of starbirth, but rather stellar death. It was created by one of the most violent events that can happen in the Universe — a supernova explosion. These explosions are so bright that they often briefly outshine their entire host galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months (also see eso1315 and potw1323a).

    From looking at this image, it may be difficult to grasp the sheer size of these clouds — they are several hundred light-years across. And they are not in our galaxy, but far beyond. The Large Magellanic Cloud is enormous, but when compared to our own galaxy it is very modest in extent, spanning just 14 000 light-years — about ten times smaller than the Milky Way.

    This image was acquired using the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph instrument attached to ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which is located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems programme.

    fors
    FORS at the VLT

    See the full article, with notes, links, and videos, here.

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  • richardmitnick 9:51 pm on October 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    ESO VLT Brief: “Thor’s Helmet Nebula imaged on the occasion of ESO’s 50th Anniversary” 


    European Southern Observatory

    This VLT image of the Thor’s Helmet Nebula was taken on the occasion of ESO’s 50th Anniversary, 5 October 2012, with the help of Brigitte Bailleul — winner of the Tweet Your Way to the VLT! competition.

    th
    Credit: ESO/B. Bailleul
    Release date: 5 October 2012, 16:00

    The observations were broadcast live over the internet from the Paranal Observatory in Chile. This object, also known as NGC 2359, lies in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). The helmet-shaped nebula is around 15 000 light-years away from Earth and is over 30 light-years across. The helmet is a cosmic bubble, blown as the wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble’s centre sweeps through the surrounding molecular cloud.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    ESO VLT Brief: “The smoky pink core of the Omega Nebula” 


    European Southern Observatory

    omega
    Release date: 4 January 2012, 12:00

    This image of the Omega Nebula (Messier 17), captured by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), is one of the sharpest of this object ever taken from the ground. It shows the dusty, rosy central parts of the famous star-forming region in fine detail.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 11:19 am on October 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Nebulae Near the Hot Wolf-Rayet Star BAT99-2 in the LMC” 


    European Southern Observatory

    Three-colour composite image of the highly excited nebula near the Wolf-Rayet (WR) star BAT99-2 in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), obtained in January 2002 with the FORS1 multi-mode instrument at the 8.2-m VLT MELIPAL telescope at the Paranal Observatory (Chile).

    bat
    Release date: 9 April 2003

    It is based on three exposures through narrow-band optical (interference) filters that isolate the light from specific atoms and ions. In this rendering, the blue colour represents the light from singly ionized Helium (He II; wavelength 468.6 nm; exposure time 60 min), green corresponds to doubly ionized oxygen ([O III]; 495.7 + 500.7 nm; 5 min) and red to hydrogen atoms (H; H-alpha line at 656.2 nm; 5 min). Of these three ions, He II is the tracer of high excitation, i.e. the bluest areas of the nebula are the hottest. The sky field measures 400 x 400 square arcsec; the original pixel size on the 2k x 2k CCD is 0.23 arcsec. North is up and east to the left. Before combination, the CCD frames were flat-fielded and cleaned of cosmic-rays. Moreover, the stars in the blue (He II) image were removed in order to provide a clearer view of the surrounding nebular emission. The reproduced brightness is proportional to the square-root of the actual intensity; this increases the “dynamical range” of the image, i.e. it shows better areas of very different brightness.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:44 am on October 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “A Close Look at the Toby Jug Nebula” 


    European Southern Observatory

    9 October 2013

    ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured a remarkably detailed image of the Toby Jug Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust surrounding a red giant star. This view shows the characteristic arcing structure of the nebula, which, true to its name, does indeed look a little like a jug with a handle.

    tjn

    Located about 1200 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Carina (The Ship’s Keel), the Toby Jug Nebula, more formally known as IC 2220, is an example of a reflection nebula. It is a cloud of gas and dust illuminated from within by a star called HD 65750. This star, a type known as a red giant, has five times the mass of our Sun but it is in a much more advanced stage of its life, despite its comparatively young age of around 50 million years.

    The nebula was created by the star, which is losing part of its mass out into the surrounding space, forming a cloud of gas and dust as the material cools. The dust consists of elements such as carbon and simple, heat-resistant compounds such as titanium dioxide and calcium oxide (lime). In this case, detailed studies of the object in infrared light point to silicon dioxide (silica) being the most likely compound reflecting the star’s light.

    IC 2220 is visible as the star’s light is reflected off the grains of dust. This celestial butterfly structure is almost symmetrical, and spans about one light-year. This phase of a star’s life is short-lived and such objects are thus rare.

    Red giants are formed from stars that are ageing and approaching the final stages of their evolution. They have almost depleted their reserves of hydrogen, which fuels the reactions that occur during most of the life of a star. This causes the atmosphere of the star to expand enormously. Stars like HD 65750 burn a shell of helium outside a carbon-oxygen core, sometimes accompanied by a hydrogen shell closer to the star’s surface.

    Billions of years in the future, our Sun will also bloat into a red giant. It is expected that the solar atmosphere will inflate well beyond the current orbit of Earth, engulfing all the inner planets in the process. By then, Earth will be already in very bad shape. The huge increase of radiation and the strong stellar winds that will accompany the process of stellar inflation will destroy all life on Earth and evaporate the water in the oceans, before the entire planet is finally melted.

    British astronomers Paul Murdin, David Allen and David Malin gave IC 2220 the nickname of the Toby Jug Nebula because of its shape, which is similar to an old English drinking vessel of a type called a Toby Jug with which they were familiar when young.

    Contacts

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    See the full article, with nots and images, here.

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on October 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: Great Image of NGC1365 


    European Southern Observatory

    This is a true-colour image of the major part of NGC 1365, combined from three exposures with the FORS1 multi-mode instrument at VLT UT1, in the B (blue), V (green) and R (red) optical bands. The exposure times were 360, 180 and 140 seconds, respectively. The image quality is about 0.8 arcsec. The field measures about 7 x 7 arcmin 2. North is up and East is left.

    ngc1365
    Release date: 27 February 1999

    See the full article here.

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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  • richardmitnick 7:49 am on October 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: Video – VLT Opening in Real Time 


    European Southern Observatory

    Here is a really cool video from ESO, the VLT Opening in real time.
    Enjoy.

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