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  • richardmitnick 8:10 am on August 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Very Large Survey Telescope (VST)   

    From SPACE.com: ” Spiral Galaxy Glows in Breathtaking Telescope Photos, Video” 

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    August 08, 2014
    Elizabeth Howell

    Red clouds of gas are speckled among the stars of a relatively nearby galaxy that shines in an incredible new image, one of the most detailed wide-angle views ever taken of the cosmic object.

    M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, taken by the VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The picture reveals gassy regions, shown in red.

    The photo, taken by a telescope in Chile, puts the Triangulum Galaxy (also called M33, or NGC 598) on display. Embedded in the spiral galaxy is a giant nebula, or gas cloud, called NGC 604. The nebula is about 1,500 light-years across and is about 40 times larger than the Orion Nebula — a well-known star forming hotspot that is closer to Earth.

    “A closer look at this beautiful new picture not only allows a very detailed inspection of the star-forming spiral arms of the galaxy, but also reveals the very rich scenery of the more distant galaxies scattered behind the myriad stars and glowing clouds of NGC 598,” representatives of the European Southern Observatory said in a statement.

    The new image, released by ESO, was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope located at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. Star clusters and dust also glow in the newly-released picture.

    M33 is 3 million light-years from Earth and is the second-closest large galaxy to Earth. (The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest large one.) NGC 598 is located in the northern constellation Triangulum and is just visible to the naked eye during a dark night. The galaxy is also speeding towards our own Milky Way at 62,000 mph (100,000 km/h) .

    A wide view of the Triangulum Galaxy more than 3 million light-years from the Milky Way.
    Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin

    “This picture was created from many individual exposures, including some taken through a filter passing just the light from glowing hydrogen, which make the red gas clouds in the galaxies spiral arms especially prominent,” ESO representatives said in a statement.

    The letter “M” stands for “Messier”, after the catalog by French astronomer Charles Messier who created a database of objects to help him distinguish them from comets. Astronomers believe M33 was first documented in the 1600s by Sicilian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna.

    See the full article here.

    NGC 604
    This is a Hubble Space Telescope image (right) of a vast nebula called NGC 604, which lies in the neighboring spiral galaxy M33, located 2.7 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum. This is a site where new stars are being born in a spiral arm of the galaxy. Though such nebulae are common in galaxies, this one is particularly large, nearly 1,500 light-years across. The nebula is so vast it is easily seen in ground-based telescopic images (left). At the heart of NGC 604 are over 200 hot stars, much more massive than our Sun (15 to 60 solar masses). They heat the gaseous walls of the nebula making the gas fluoresce. Their light also highlights the nebula’s three-dimensional shape, like a lantern in a cavern. By studying the physical structure of a giant nebula, astronomers may determine how clusters of massive stars affect the evolution of the interstellar medium of the galaxy. The nebula also yields clues to its star formation history and will improve understanding of the starburst process when a galaxy undergoes a “firestorm” of star formation. The image was taken on January 17, 1995 with Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. Separate exposures were taken in different colors of light to study the physical properties of the hot gas (17,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 10,000 degrees Kelvin.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    NASA Hubble WFPC2
    HUbble’s WFPC2, no longer in service

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  • richardmitnick 12:35 pm on October 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Very Large Survey Telescope (VST)   

    From ESO: “Surprise Cloud Around Vast Star” 

    European Southern Observatory

    This new picture from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory shows the remarkable super star cluster Westerlund 1 (eso1034). This exceptionally bright cluster lies about 16 000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar). It contains hundreds of very massive and brilliant stars, all of which are just a few million years old — babies by stellar standards. But our view of this cluster is hampered by gas and dust that prevents most of the visible light from the cluster’s stars from getting to Earth.

    Release date: 14 October 2013, 10:00

    Now, astronomers studying images of Westerlund 1 from a new survey of the southern skies have spotted something unexpected in this cluster. Around one of the stars — known as W26, a red supergiant and possibly the biggest star known— they have discovered clouds of glowing hydrogen gas, shown as green features in this new image.

    Such glowing clouds around massive stars are very rare, and are even rarer around a red supergiant— this is the first ionised nebula discovered around such a star. W26 itself would be too cool to make the gas glow; the astronomers speculate that the source of the ionising radiation may be either hot blue stars elsewhere in the cluster, or possibly a fainter, but much hotter, companion star to W26.

    W26 will eventually explode as a supernova. The nebula that surrounds it is very similar to the nebula surrounding SN1987A, the remnants of a star that went supernova in 1987. SN1987A was the closest observed supernova to Earth since 1604, and as such it gave astronomers a chance to explore the properties of these explosions. Studying objects like this new nebula around W26 will help astronomers to understand the mass loss processes around these massive stars, which eventually lead to their explosive demise.

    ESA image of SN1987A

    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 8:01 am on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “The Smoky Pink Core of the Omega Nebula” 

    A new image of the Omega Nebula, 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, rose-coloured central parts of this famous stellar nursery and reveals extraordinary detail in the cosmic landscape of gas clouds, dust and newborn stars.


    The colourful gas and dark dust in the Omega Nebula serve as the raw materials for creating the next generation of stars. In this particular section of the nebula, the newest stars on the scene — dazzlingly bright and shining blue-white — light up the whole ensemble. The nebula’s smoky-looking ribbons of dust stand in silhouette against the glowing gas. The dominant reddish colours of this portion of the cloud-like expanse, arise from hydrogen gas, glowing under the influence of the intense ultraviolet rays from the hot young stars.

    The image was taken with the FORS (FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph) instrument on Antu, one of the four Unit Telescopes of the VLT. In addition to the huge telescope, exceptionally steady air during the observations, despite some clouds, also helped make the crispness of this image possible. As a result this new picture is among the sharpest of this part of the Omega Nebula ever taken from the ground.

    This image is one of the first to have been produced as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems programme.


    Paranal Platform The VLT

    La Silla

    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    The European Extremely Large Telescope

    ESO Very Large Survey Telescope

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

  • richardmitnick 7:00 am on December 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Very Large Survey Telescope (VST)   

    From ESO: “A Galaxy Blooming with New Stars” 

    VLT Survey snaps wide-field view of NGC 253
    15 December 2011

    ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST)

    “The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) has captured the beauty of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 253. The new portrait is probably the most detailed wide-field view of this object and its surroundings ever taken. It demonstrates that the VST, the newest telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, provides broad views of the sky while also offering impressive image sharpness.


    “NGC 253 gleams about eleven and a half million light-years away in the southern constellation of Sculptor. It is often just called the Sculptor Galaxy, although other descriptive names include the Silver Coin or Silver Dollar Galaxy. It is easy to get a good look at NGC 253 through binoculars as it is one of the brightest galaxies in the sky after the Milky Way’s closest, big galactic neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy.

    Astronomers have noted the widespread active star formation in NGC 253 and labelled it a ‘starburst’ galaxy. The many bright clumps dotting the galaxy are stellar nurseries where hot young stars have just ignited. The radiation streaming from these giant blue-white babies makes the surrounding hydrogen gas clouds glow brightly (green in this image).

    The VST is a 2.6-metre wide-field survey telescope with a one-degree field of view — twice as broad as the full Moon. The VST programme is a joint venture between the INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy and ESO (eso1119). The 268-megapixel camera OmegaCAM at its heart is designed to map the sky both quickly and with very fine image quality. VST is the largest telescope in the world designed to exclusively survey the sky in visible light, complementing ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope, also located at Paranal.”

    See the full post here.


    Paranal Platform The VLT

    La Silla

    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    The European Extremely Large Telescope

    ESO Very Large Survey Telescope

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

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