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  • richardmitnick 1:04 pm on December 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: Really Cool Images 

    Visit the ESO Images site for some really cool images. Click on any image and you will get the story behind it. This is very educational, great for kids.


    Paranal Platform The VLT

    La Silla

    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    The European Extremely Large Telescope

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

  • richardmitnick 6:58 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Southern Observatory   

    From Universe Today: “Betelgeuse: A Claim To Flame” 

    by Tammy Plotner on June 23, 2011

    “If it were at home in the center of our solar system, this red supergiant’s girth would extend out almost to the orbit of Jupiter. It’s about a thousand times larger than Sol and shines a hundred thousand times brighter. What’s more, the amount of mass it sheds every ten thousand years could create another sun. It’s nearing the end of its life and when it goes supernova, we’ll be able to see it here on Earth – even in broad daylight. So what’s surrounding Betelgeuse that looks like the conflagration generation?

    This picture of the dramatic nebula around the bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse was created from images taken with the VISIR infrared camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). This structure, resembling flames emanating from the star, forms because the behemoth is shedding its material into space. The earlier NACO observations of the plumes are reproduced in the central disc. The small red circle in the middle has a diameter about four and half times that of the Earth’s orbit and represents the location of Betelgeuse’s visible surface. The black disc corresponds to a very bright part of the image that was masked to allow the fainter nebula to be seen. Credit: ESO/P. Kervella

    Using the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), researchers have been able to take a more detailed look than ever at the nebula surrounding Betelgeuse. These infrared diffraction-limited images hold clues to the stellar aging process, since much of this structure cannot be seen in visible light. Filled with knots and pockets, this mysterious ether makes for prime study.”

    See the full article here.

  • richardmitnick 10:59 am on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA Hubble: “Pandora’s Cluster — Clash of the Titans” 

    “A team of scientists studying the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora’s Cluster, have pieced together the cluster’s complex and violent history using telescopes in space and on the ground, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, the Japanese Subaru telescope, and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.


    The giant galaxy cluster appears to be the result of a simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate, smaller galaxy clusters. The crash took place over a span of 350 million years.

    The galaxies in the cluster make up less than 5 percent of its mass. The gas (around 20 percent) is so hot that it shines only in X-rays (colored red in this image). The distribution of invisible dark matter (making up around 75 percent of the cluster’s mass) is colored here in blue.

    Dark matter does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, but it makes itself apparent through its gravitational attraction. To pinpoint the location of this elusive substance the team exploited a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. This is the bending of light rays from distant galaxies as they pass through the gravitational field created by the cluster. The result is a series of telltale distortions in the images of galaxies in the background of the Hubble and VLT observations. By carefully analyzing the way that these images are distorted, it is possible to accurately map where the dark matter lies.

    See the full article here.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

  • richardmitnick 9:51 pm on June 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Southern Observatory   

    From Universe Today: “Astronomy Without A Telescope – Oh-My-God Particles” 

    Centaurus A – one of the closest galaxies with an active galactic nucleus – although it is over 10 million light years away. If you are looking for a likely source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays – you may not need to look further. Credit: ESO.

    “Cosmic rays are really sub-atomic particles, being mainly protons (hydrogen nuclei) and occasionally helium or heavier atomic nuclei and very occasionally electrons. Cosmic ray particles are very energetic as a result of them having a substantial velocity and hence a substantial momentum.

    The Oh-My-God particle detected over Utah in 1991 was probably a proton traveling at 0.999 (and add another 20 x 9s after that) of the speed of light and it allegedly carried the same kinetic energy as a baseball traveling at 90 kilometers an hour.”


    See the full article here.

  • richardmitnick 6:08 pm on June 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From Universe Today: “New VLT Survey Telescope Opens Wide Eyes to the Universe” 

    by Nancy Atkinson on June 9, 2011

    “There’s a new telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and what big eyes it has! The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is a wide-field survey telescope with a field of view twice as broad as the full Moon, enabling new, spectacular views of the cosmos. It is the largest telescope in the world designed to exclusively survey the sky in visible light.

    The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is the latest telescope to be added to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Credit: ESO/G. Lombardi

    The first image released from these new eyes on the Universe is a spectacular view star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, shown above. The VST field of view is so large that the entire nebula, including its fainter outer parts, is captured — and retains its superb sharpness across the entire image.

    The spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, A.K.A. the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula. Credit: ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM. Acknowledgement: OmegaCen/Astro-WISE/Kapteyn Institute.

    The second image is the globular star cluster Omega Centauri. This is the largest globular cluster in the sky, but the very wide field of view of VST and OmegaCAM allows even the faint outer regions to be seen clearly. This view includes about 300,000 stars.

    Omega Centauri, in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur)Credit: ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM. Acknowledgement: A. Grado/INAF-Capodimonte Observatory

    See the full article here.

  • richardmitnick 5:11 pm on May 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Southern Observatory   

    From Universe Today: “The Lone SuperStar” 

    by Tammy Plotner on May 25, 2011

    “It hangs out in space some 160,000 light years away. Its neighborhood is the Large Magellanic Cloud. It calls the Tarantula Nebula home. Its 150 times more massive than our Sun and it shines an astounding three million times brighter. What is it? Try a lone super star…

    Credit: ESO/M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

    Utilizing the power of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, a team of international astronomers star have been checking out star VFTS 682 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Using an instrument aptly named FLAMES, they also discovered the star to be very hot, with a surface temperature of about 50 000 degrees Celsius. While most of the initial findings were rather unremarkable, when researchers cleared away the dust clouds they discovered this super star stood alone.

    ‘ We were very surprised to find such a massive star on its own, and not in a rich star cluster,”’notes Joachim Bestenlehner, the lead author of the new study and a student at Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. ‘ Its origin is mysterious.’ ”

    See the full article here.

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