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  • richardmitnick 6:01 am on September 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO VISTA,   

    From ESO: “This Star Cluster Is Not What It Seems” 


    European Southern Observatory

    10 September 2014
    Contacts

    Alessio Mucciarelli
    University of Bologna
    Bologna, Italy
    Tel: +39 051 20 95705
    Email: alessio.mucciarelli2@unibo.it

    Lars Lindberg Christensen
    Head of ESO ePOD
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
    Cell: +49 173 3872 621
    Email: lars@eso.org

    VLT observations of Messier 54 show the lithium problem also applies outside our galaxy

    This new image from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile shows a vast collection of stars, the globular cluster Messier 54. This cluster looks very similar to many others but it has a secret. Messier 54 doesn’t belong to the Milky Way, but is part of a small satellite galaxy, the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy. This unusual parentage has now allowed astronomers to use the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to test whether there are also unexpectedly low levels of the element lithium in stars outside the Milky Way.

    m54

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO Vista

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    ESO VLT at Paranal

    The Milky Way galaxy is orbited by more than 150 globular star clusters, which are balls of hundreds of thousands of old stars dating back to the formation of the galaxy. One of these, along with several others in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), was found in the late eighteenth century by the French comet hunter Charles Messier and given the designation Messier 54.

    For more than two hundred years after its discovery Messier 54 was thought to be similar to the other Milky Way globulars. But in 1994 it was discovered that it was actually associated with a separate galaxy — the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy. It was found to be at a distance of around 90 000 light-years — more than three times as far from Earth as the galactic centre.

    Astronomers have now observed Messier 54 using the VLT as a test case to try to solve one of the mysteries of modern astronomy — the lithium problem.

    Most of the light chemical element lithium now present in the Universe was produced during the Big Bang, along with hydrogen and helium, but in much smaller quantities. Astronomers can calculate quite accurately how much lithium they expect to find in the early Universe, and from this work out how much they should see in old stars. But the numbers don’t match — there is about three times less lithium in stars than expected. This mystery remains, despite several decades of work [1].

    Up to now it has only been possible to measure lithium in stars in the Milky Way. But now a team of astronomers led by Alessio Mucciarelli (University of Bologna, Italy) has used the VLT to measure how much lithium there is in a selection of stars in Messier 54. They find that the levels are close to those in the Milky Way. So, whatever it is that got rid of the lithium seems not to be specific to the Milky Way.

    This new image of the cluster was created from data taken with the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the Paranal Observatory. As well as showing the cluster itself it reveals the extraordinarily dense forest of much closer Milky Way stars that lie in the foreground.
    Notes

    [1] There are several possible proposed solutions to the riddle. The first is that the calculations of the amounts of lithium produced in the Big Bang are wrong — but very recent tests suggest that this is not the case. The second is that the lithium was somehow destroyed in the earliest stars, before the formation of the Milky Way. The third is that some process in the stars has gradually destroyed lithium during their lives.
    More information

    This research was presented in a paper, The cosmological Lithium problem outside the Galaxy: the Sagittarius globular cluster M54, by A. Mucciarelli et al., to appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Oxford University Press).

    The team is composed of: A. Mucciarelli (University of Bologna, Italy), M. Salaris (Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK), P. Bonifacio (Observatoire de Paris, France), L. Monaco (ESO, Santiago, Chile) and S. Villanova (Universidad de Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile).

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:03 pm on July 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “VISTA Captures Celestial Cat’s Hidden Secrets” 2010 


    European Southern Observatory

    21 April 2010
    Richard Hook
    Survey Telescopes PIO
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    The Cat’s Paw Nebula, NGC 6334, is a huge stellar nursery, the birthplace of hundreds of massive stars. In a magnificent new ESO image taken with the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the glowing gas and dust clouds obscuring the view are penetrated by infrared light and some of the Cat’s hidden young stars are revealed.

    cats paw

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/VISTA

    Towards the heart of the Milky Way, 5500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (the Scorpion), the Cat’s Paw Nebula stretches across 50 light-years. In visible light, gas and dust are illuminated by hot young stars, creating strange reddish shapes that give the object its nickname. A recent image by ESO’s Wide Field Imager (WFI) at the La Silla Observatory (eso1003) captured this visible light view in great detail. NGC 6334 is one of the most active nurseries of massive stars in our galaxy.

    ESO Wide Field Imager 2.2m LaSilla
    ESO/WFI at LaSilla

    VISTA, the latest addition to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert, is the world’s largest survey telescope (eso0949). It works at infrared wavelengths, seeing right through much of the dust that is such a beautiful but distracting aspect of the nebula, and revealing objects hidden from the sight of visible light telescopes. Visible light tends to be scattered and absorbed by interstellar dust, but the dust is nearly transparent to infrared light.

    VISTA has a main mirror that is 4.1 metres across and it is equipped with the largest infrared camera on any telescope. It shares the spectacular viewing conditions with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), which is located on the nearby summit. With this powerful instrument at their command, astronomers were keen to see the birth pains of the big young stars in the Cat’s Paw Nebula, some nearly ten times the mass of the Sun. The view in the infrared is strikingly different from that in visible light. With the dust obscuring the view far less, they can learn much more about how these stars form and develop in their first few million years of life. VISTA’s very wide field of view allows the whole star-forming region to be imaged in one shot with much greater clarity than ever before.

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    ESO/VLT

    The VISTA image is filled with countless stars of our Milky Way galaxy overlaid with spectacular tendrils of dark dust that are seen here fully for the first time. The dust is sufficiently thick in places to block even the near-infrared radiation to which VISTA’s camera is sensitive. In many of the dusty areas, such as those close to the centre of the picture, features that appear orange are apparent — evidence of otherwise hidden active young stars and their accompanying jets. Further out though, slightly older stars are laid bare to VISTA’s vision, revealing the processes taking them from their first nuclear fusion along the unsteady path of the first few million years of their lives.

    The VISTA telescope is now embarking on several big surveys of the southern sky that will take years to complete. The telescope’s large mirror, high quality images, sensitive camera and huge field of view make it by far the most powerful infrared survey telescope on Earth. As this striking image shows, VISTA will keep astronomers busy analysing data they could not have otherwise acquired. This cat is out of the bag.

    See the full article here.

    Another view
    ngc6334
    This image of the star formation region NGC 6334 is one of the first scientific images from the ArTeMiS instrument on APEX. The picture shows the glow detected at a wavelength of 0.35 millimetres coming from dense clouds of interstellar dust grains. The new observations from ArTeMiS show up in orange and have been superimposed on a view of the same region taken in near-infrared light by ESO’s VISTA telescope at Paranal.

    ESO APEX
    ESO APEX

    ESO ARTEMIS
    ArTeMis on APEX

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  • richardmitnick 9:01 am on April 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “The hidden fires of the Flame Nebula” 

    This image, the first to be released publicly from VISTA, the world’s largest survey telescope, shows the spectacular star-forming region known as the Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter) and its surroundings.

    flame
    Release date: 11 December 2009, 11:30

    In views of this evocative object in visible light the core of the nebula is completely hidden behind obscuring dust, but in this VISTA view, taken in infrared light, the cluster of very young stars at the object’s heart is revealed. The wide-field VISTA view also includes the glow of the reflection nebula NGC 2023, just below centre, and the ghostly outline of the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) towards the lower right. The bright bluish star towards the right is one of the three bright stars forming the Belt of Orion. The image was created from VISTA images taken through J, H and Ks filters in the near-infrared part of the spectrum. The image shows about half the area of the full VISTA field and is about 40 x 50 arcminutes in extent. The total exposure time was 14 minutes.”

    For this image and for the full range of ESO, “like” the ESO Astronomy Fan Page.

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    THE BASIC TOOLS OF E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT

    ESO NTT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope


    La Silla


    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope
    VISTAVISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

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


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 6:52 am on February 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO VISTA   

    From ESO: “Sweeping the Dust from a Cosmic Lobster” 

    New infrared VISTA image of NGC 6357

    A new image from ESO’s VISTA telescope captures a celestial landscape of glowing clouds of gas and tendrils of dust surrounding hot young stars. This infrared view reveals the stellar nursery known as NGC 6357 in a surprising new light. It was taken as part of a VISTA survey that is currently scanning the Milky Way in a bid to map our galaxy’s structure and explain how it formed.

    ngc

    Located around 8000 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion), NGC 6357 — sometimes nicknamed the Lobster Nebula due to its appearance in visible-light images — is a region filled with vast clouds of gas and tendrils of dark dust. These clouds are forming stars, including massive hot stars which glow a brilliant blue-white in visible light.

    This image uses infrared data from ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. It is just a small part of a huge survey called VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) that is imaging the central parts of the Galaxy (eso1242). The new picture presents a drastically different view to that seen in visible-light images — such as the image taken with the 1.5-metre Danish telescope at La Silla — as infrared radiation can penetrate much of the covering of dust that shrouds the object.

    VISTA is the largest and most powerful survey telescope ever built, and is dedicated to surveying the sky in infrared light. The VVV survey is scanning the central bulge and some of the plane of our galaxy to create a huge dataset that will help astronomers to discover more about the origin, early life, and structure of the Milky Way.”

    See the full article here.

    Visit ESO in Social Media-

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    THE BASIC TOOLS OF E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT
    ESO NTT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope


    La Silla

    alma
    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope
    VISTAVISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

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


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 7:12 am on May 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO VISTA   

    From ESO: “VISTA Views a Vast Ball of Stars” 

    9 May 2012
    Richard Hook

    A new image of Messier 55 from ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope shows tens of thousands of stars crowded together like a swarm of bees. Besides being packed into a relatively small space, these stars are also among the oldest in the Universe. Astronomers study Messier 55 and other ancient objects like it, called globular clusters, to learn how galaxies evolve and stars age.

    m5

    Globular clusters are held together in a tight spherical shape by gravity. In Messier 55, the stars certainly do keep close company: approximately one hundred thousand stars are packed within a sphere with a diameter of only about 25 times the distance between the Sun and the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri.

    The new image was obtained in infrared light by the 4.1-metre Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile.”

    VISTA

    See the full article here.

    THE BASIC TOOLS OF THE E.S.O.

    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT


    La Silla

    i1
    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope

    ESO Very Large Survey Telescope

    i3
    VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

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

     
  • richardmitnick 6:57 am on January 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO VISTA   

    From ESO: “The Helix in New Colours” 

    Richard Hook
    19 January 2012

    ESO’s VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, has captured a striking new image of the Helix Nebula. This picture, taken in infrared light, reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are invisible in images taken in visible light, as well as bringing to light a rich background of stars and galaxies.

    i1

    The Helix Nebula is one of the closest and most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. It lies in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer), about 700 light-years away from Earth. This strange object formed when a star like the Sun was in the final stages of its life. Unable to hold onto its outer layers, the star slowly shed shells of gas that became the nebula. It is evolving to become a white dwarf star and appears as the tiny blue dot seen at the centre of the image.

    The nebula itself is a complex object composed of dust, ionised material as well as molecular gas, arrayed in a beautiful and intricate flower-like pattern and glowing in the fierce glare of ultraviolet light from the central hot star.

    The main ring of the Helix is about two light-years across, roughly half the distance between the Sun and the nearest star. However, material from the nebula spreads out from the star to at least four light-years. This is particularly clear in this infrared view since red molecular gas can be seen across much of the image.”

    i3
    VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)

    See the full article here.

    THE BASIC TOOLS OF THE E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT


    La Silla

    i1
    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

     
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