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  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on May 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT),   

    From Manu Garcia: “The Eagle Nebula, an eagle of cosmic proportions.” 

    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    July 16, 2009.

    ESO today released a new and stunning image of the sky around the Eagle Nebula , a stellar maternity ward where whole clusters are forged inside monstrous columns of gas and dust.

    It is located at 7,000 away in the constellation Serpens (the Snake), light years from the Eagle Nebula is a dazzling stellar nursery, a region of gas and dust where young stars are continually forming; She including just born NGC 6611 , a cluster of massive, hot stars. The intense light and strong winds emitted by these massive stars, carved pillars of light years in length, whose silhouettes stand out in the picture on the bright background of the nebula. The nebula itself has a shape vaguely reminiscent of an eagle, where the central pillars would claws.

    The star cluster was discovered in 1745-46 by the Swiss astronomer Jean Philippe Loys de Cheseaux. It was rediscovered independently twenty years later by the French comet hunter Charles Messier, who included it with the name of M16 in his famous catalog, noting that the stars were surrounded by a faint diffuse glow. The Eagle Nebula achieved fame in 1995 when its central pillars were photographed in the famous image obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope ESA / NASA .

    Pillars of Creation. NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    In 2001, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) captured another striking image of the nebula (eso0142) in the near infrared, thus penetrating dust and clearly showing stars being formed in the pillars.

    ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    The newly released image, obtained with the Wide Field Camera installed on the MPG / ESO telescope 2.2 meters at the La Silla Observatory in Chile , covers an area of sky the size of the full moon, this being a field 15 times larger than the previous image VLT and 200 times larger than the famous image Hubble in visible light.

    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    The whole region around the pillars can be seen in exquisite detail.

    The “Pillars of Creation” are in the center of the image, accompanied, top right, the young star cluster NGC 6611 . The “Capitel” – another pillar captured by Hubble – is at the center left of the image.

    Shaped structures fingers emerge from the massive wall of the cloud of gas and dust, as stalagmites emerging soil of a cave. Inside the pillars, the gas is dense enough to collapse under its own weight, forming young stars. These columns of gas and dust, light years long, are sculpted, illuminated and destroyed both by the intense ultraviolet radiation from massive stars in NGC 6611 , the adjacent young cluster. Within a few million years – a mere blink of the universal eye wide disappear forever.

    ESO .

    More images from ESO

    Digitized sky survey image of the Eagle Nebula

    More … here

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:02 pm on August 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    From SEEKER: “The Race to See Our Supermassive Black Hole” 

    Seeker bloc


    May 26, 2016 [Article brought forward by ESO]
    No writer credit found

    Using the power of interferometry, two astronomical projects are, for the first time, close to directly observing the black hole in the center of the Milky Way.

    Sag A*  NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
    Sag A* NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    There’s a monster living in the center of the galaxy.

    We know the supermassive black hole is there by tracking the motions of stars and gas clouds that orbit an invisible point. That point exerts an overwhelming tidal influence on all objects that get trapped in its gravitational domain and this force can be measured through stellar orbits to calculate its mass.

    It certainly isn’t the biggest black hole in the universe, but it isn’t the smallest either, it “weighs in” at an incredible 4 million times the mass of our sun.

    But this black hole behemoth, called Sagittarius A*, is over 20,000 light-years from Earth making direct observations, before now, nigh-on impossible. Despite its huge mass, the black hole is minuscule when seen from Earth; a telescope with an unprecedented angular resolution is needed.

    Though we already know a lot about Sagittarius A* from indirect observations, seeing is believing and there’s an international race, using the world’s most powerful observatories and sophisticated astronomical techniques, to zoom-in on the Milky Way’s black hole. This won’t only prove it’s really there, but it will reveal a region where space-time is so warped that we will be able to make direct tests of general relativity in the strongest gravity environment known to exist in the universe.

    The Event Horizon Telescope and GRAVITY

    A huge global effort is currently under way to link a network of global radio telescopes to create a virtual telescope that will span the width of our planet. Using the incredible power of interferometry, astronomers can combine the light from many distant radio antennae and collect it at one point, to mimic one large radio antenna spanning the globe.

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Event Horizon Telescope map
    Event Horizon Telescope map

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX)

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    Future Array/Telescopes

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    This effort is known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and it is hoped the project will be able to attain the angular resolution and spatial definition required to soon produce its first radio observations of the bright ring just beyond Sagittarius A*’s event horizon — the point surrounding a black hole where nothing, not even light, can escape.

    However, another project has the same goal in mind, but it’s not going to observe in radio wavelengths, it’s going to stare deep into the galactic core to seek out optical and infrared light coming from Sagittarius A* and it just needs one observatory to make this goal a reality.

    The ESO Very Large Telescope located atop Cerro Paranal in Chile. Ian O’Neill

    The GRAVITY instrument is currently undergoing commissioning at the ESO’s Very Large Telescope at Paranal Observatory high in the Atacama Desert in Chile (at an altitude of over 2,600 meters or 8,300 ft) and it will also use the power of interferometry to resolve our supermassive black hole. But rather than connecting global observatories like the EHT, GRAVITY will combine the light of the four 8 meter telescopes of the VLT Interferometer (collectively known as the VLTI) to create a “virtual” telescope measuring the distance between each individual telescope.

    ESO GRAVITY insrument
    ESO GRAVITY insrument

    “By doing this you can reach the same resolution and precision that you would get from a telescope that has a size, in this case, of roughly a hundred meters, simply because these eight meter-class telescopes are separated by roughly one hundred meters,” astronomer Oliver Pfuhl, of Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Germany, told DNews. “If you combine the light from those you reach the same resolution as a virtual telescope of a hundred meters would have.”

    Strong Gravity Environment

    When GRAVITY is online it will be used to track features just outside Sagittarius A*’s event horizon.

    “For about ten years, we’ve known that this black hole is actually not black. Once in awhile it flares, so we see it brightening and darkening,” he said. This flaring is matter falling into the event horizon, generating a powerful flash of energy. The nature of these flares are poorly understood, but the instrument should be able to track this flaring material as it rapidly orbits the event horizon and fades away. These flares will also act as tracers, helping us see the structure of space-time immediately surrounding a black hole for the first time.

    One of the four Very Large Telescope domes fires its new four-laser adaptive optics system. GRAVITY will make use of adaptive optics to improve observations of Sagittarius A* by compensating for the effects of atmospheric turbulence. ESO

    “Our goal is to measure these motions. We think that what we see as this flaring is actually gas which spirals into the black hole. This brightening and darkening is essentially the gas, when it comes too close to the black hole, the strong tidal forces make it heat up,” said Pfuhl.

    “If we can study these motions which happen so close to the black hole, we have a direct probe of the space time close to the black hole. In this way we have a direct test of general relativity in one of the most extreme environments which you can find in the universe.”

    While GRAVITY will be able to track these flaring events very close to the black hole, the Event Horizon Telescope will see the shadow, or silhouette, of the dark event horizon surrounded by radio wave emissions. Both projects will be able to measure different components of the region directly surrounding the event horizon, so combined observations in optical and radio wavelengths will complement one other.

    It just so happens that the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest radio observatory on the planet — also located in the Atacama Desert — will also be added to the EHT.

    “The Event Horizon Telescope will combine ALMA with telescopes around the world like Hawaii and other locations, and with that power you can look at really fine details especially in the black hole in the center of our galaxy and perhaps in some really nearby other galaxies that also have black holes in their centers,” ESO astronomer Linda Watson told DNews.

    The ALMA antenna in a clustered formation on Chajnantor plateau during the #MeetESO event on May 11, 2016. The extreme location of the observatory can produce unpredictable weather and, as depicted here, a blizzard descended on the plateau cutting the visit short.
    Ian O’Neill

    ALMA itself is an interferometer combining the collecting power of 66 radio antennae located atop Chajnantor plateau some 5,000 meters (16,400 ft) in altitude. Watson uses ALMA data to study the cold dust in interstellar space, but when added to the EHT, its radio-collecting power will help us understand the dynamics of the environment surrounding Sagittarius A*.

    “ALMA’s an interferometer with 66 antennas, (the EHT) will treat ALMA as just one telescope and will combine it with other telescopes around the world to be another interferometer,” she added.

    Black Hole Mysteries

    Many black holes are thought to possess an accretion disk of swirling gas and dust. ALMA, when combined with the EHT, will be able to measure this disk’s structure, speed and direction of motion. Lacking direct observations, many of these characteristics have only been modeled by computer simulations or inferred from indirect observations. We’re about to enter an era when we can truly get to answer some of the biggest mysteries surrounding black hole dynamics.

    “The first thing we want to see is we want to understand how accretion works close to the black hole,” said Pfuhl. “This is also true for the Event Horizon Telescope. Another thing we want to learn is does our black hole have spin? That means, does it rotate?”

    Though the EHT and GRAVITY are working at different wavelengths, observing phenomena around Sagittarius A* will reveal different things about the closest supermassive black hole to Earth. By extension it is hoped that we may observe smaller black holes in our galaxy and other supermassive black holes in neighboring galaxies.

    Computer simulation of what theoretical physiicists expect to see with the EHT — a round, dark disk surrounded by radio emissions.
    Avery E. Broderick/Univ. of Waterloo/Perimeter Institute (screenshot from the Convergence meeting)

    But as we patiently wait for the first direct observations of the black hole monster lurking in the center of our galaxy, an event that some scientists say will be as historic as the “Pale Blue Dot” photo of Earth as captured by Voyager 1 in 1990, it’s hard not to wonder which project will get there first.

    “I think it’s a very tight race,” said Pfuhl. “Let’s see.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on September 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT)   

    From ESO: “VIMOS and SPHERE pictured inside UT3” 

    European Southern Observatory

    17 August 2015

    In this view inside ESO’s Very Large Telescope array (VLT) Unit Telescope 3, VIMOS — the VIsible Multi-Object Spectrograph — can be seen to the left and SPHERE — the extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility — to the right. The telescope enclosure’s large cooling system is also visible. Credit: ESO

    See the full article here .

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. 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 also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer

    ESO Vista Telescope

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

  • richardmitnick 7:05 am on March 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Spiral Beauty Graced by Fading Supernova” 

    20 March 2013

    About 35 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Eridanus (The River), lies the spiral galaxy NGC 1637. Back in 1999 the serene appearance of this galaxy was shattered by the appearance of a very bright Type II supernova [SN1999em]. Astronomers studying the aftermath of this explosion with ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile have provided us with a stunning view of this relatively nearby galaxy.


    In 1999 the Lick Observatory in California reported the discovery of a new supernova in the spiral galaxy NGC 1637. It was spotted using a telescope that had been specially built to search for these rare, but important cosmic objects. Follow-up observations were requested so that the discovery could be confirmed and studied further. This supernova was widely observed and was given the name SN 1999em. After its spectacular explosion in 1999, the supernova’s brightness has been tracked carefully by scientists, showing its relatively gentle fading through the years.”

    The position of the supernova is marked.

    “SN 1999em is a core-collapse supernova classified more precisely as a Type IIp. The “p” stands for plateau, meaning supernovae of this type remain bright (on a plateau) for a relatively long period of time after maximum brightness.”

    See the full article here.

    Richard Hook
    ESO, La Silla, Paranal, E-ELT & Survey Telescopes Press Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

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    Paranal Platform The VLT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope

    La Silla

    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    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.

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  • richardmitnick 3:03 pm on December 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “A Black Hole’s Dinner is Fast Approaching” 

    VLT spots cloud being disrupted by black hole
    14 December 2011

    Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a gas cloud with several times the mass of the Earth accelerating fast towards the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. This is the first time ever that the approach of such a doomed cloud to a supermassive black hole has been observed. The results will be published in the 5 January 2012 issue of the journal Nature.


    During a 20-year programme using ESO telescopes to monitor the movement of stars around the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy (eso0846), a team of astronomers led by Reinhard Genzel at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany, has discovered a unique new object fast approaching the black hole.

    Over the last seven years, the speed of this object has nearly doubled, reaching more than 8 million km/h. It is on a very elongated orbit and in mid-2013 it will pass at a distance of only about 40 billion kilometres from the event horizon of the black hole, a distance of about 36 light-hours. This is an extremely close encounter with a supermassive black hole in astronomical terms.”

    See the full ESO article here, including footnotes not included in this post.


    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.

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