We design, build & operate some of the most advanced telescopes in the world.

Yepun’s laser and the Magellanic Clouds. ⠀

One of the major enemies of astronomers is the Earth’s atmosphere, which makes celestial objects appear blurry when observed by ground-based telescopes. To counteract this, astronomers use a technique called adaptive optics, in which computer-controlled deformable mirrors are adjusted hundreds of times per second to correct for the distortion of the atmosphere.⠀

This spectacular image shows Yepun, the fourth 8.2-metre Unit Telescope of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility, launching a powerful yellow laser beam into the sky. The beam creates a glowing spot — an artificial star — in the Earth’s atmosphere by exciting a layer of sodium atoms at an altitude of 90 km. This Laser Guide Star (LGS) is part of the VLT’s adaptive optics system. The light coming back from the artificial star is used as a reference to control the deformable mirrors and remove the effects of atmospheric distortions, producing astronomical images almost as sharp as if the telescope were in space.⠀

Credit: ESO/ @babaktafreshi

#eso #astronomy #vlt #galaxy #universe #paranal


Iconic, conical Licancabur watches over Chajnantor.⠀

This impressive panoramic image depicts the Chajnantor Plateau — home of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array @alma.observatory — with the majestic Licancabur volcano in the background. Watched over by Licancabur, a icy forest of penitentes (Spanish for “penitents”) cluster in the foreground. The penitentes are a curious natural phenomenon found in high-altitude regions. They are thin spikes of hardened snow or ice, with sharp edges pointing towards the Sun, reaching heights from a few centimetres up to several metres. ⠀

The Licancabur volcano, with an altitude of 5920 metres, is the most iconic volcano in the area of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Its conical shape makes it easily recognisable even from very far away. It is located on the southernmost part of the border between Chile and Bolivia. The volcano contains one of the world’s highest lakes in its summit crater. This lake has attracted the attention of biologists, who are interested on studying how microscopic organisms can survive in it, despite the very harsh environment of intense ultraviolet radiation, the thin atmosphere, and cold temperatures. The survival strategies of microscopic life in Licancabur Lake may even give us insights into the possibility of life on ancient Mars. ⠀

Image credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi ⠀

#eso #astronomy #universe #alma #photogram


Exoplanet hunters at La Silla. ⠀

In the search for distant worlds, few telescopes have had as much success as ESO's 3.6-metre telescope and the Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope, both of which are shown in this image.⠀

The 3.6-metre telescope is home to HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher), a spectrograph with unrivalled precision, and holder of many records in the field of exoplanet research, including the discovery of the least massive exoplanet, as well as of the smallest ever measured. Together with HARPS, the Leonhard Euler Telescope has allowed astronomers to find that six exoplanets from a larger sample of 27 were orbiting in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star — providing an unexpected and serious challenge to current theories of planet formation.⠀

Image credit: Iztok Bončina/ESO ⠀

#eso #astronomy #elt #exoplanet #photogram


The ALMA transporters Otto and Lore are perfectly designed to work in the harsh environment of the Atacama Desert.⠀

The duo possess impressive features; at 20 metres long, 10 metres wide and with 28 wheels each, these machines are built not just to survive in the harsh environment of the Atacama Desert, but to thrive in it! While rugged and powerful, they also possess a delicate touch, and are able to position each antenna with astonishing millimetre accuracy.⠀

Image credit: A. Russell/ESO


ALMA’s solitude.

This panoramic view of the Chajnantor Plateau shows the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array @alma.observatory , taken from near the peak of Cerro Chico. @babaktafreshi an ESO Photo Ambassador, has succeeded in capturing the feeling of solitude experienced at the ALMA site, 5000 metres above sea level in the Chilean Andes.
Image credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi
#eso #astronomy #alma #photogram


The globular star cluster 47 Tucanae. ⠀

This bright cluster of stars is 47 Tucanae (NGC 104), shown here in an image taken by ESO’s VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) from the Paranal Observatory in Chile. This cluster is located around 15 000 light-years away from us and contains millions of stars, some of which are unusual and exotic. This image was taken as part of the VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey, a project that is scanning the region of the Magellanic Clouds, two small galaxies that are very close to our Milky Way. ⠀

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

#eso #astronomy #paranal #vista #galaxy #photogram


Inspired by the #Interstellar movie, ESO Photo Ambassador Petr Horálek, captured our La Silla Observatory from this unusual and creative perspective.⠀

The majestic band of the Milky Way galaxy blazes across the sky, creating a cosmic bridge between two of La Silla’s resident telescopes: the ESO 3.6-metre telescope (left) and the Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (right). The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — a duo of nearby galaxies — are captured together sitting “above” the galactic plane in the upper right corner of the image. The bright splash of red in the middle of the frame is the beautiful Gum Nebula, and the particularly bright dot in the lower left of the image is the planet Jupiter.⠀

Image credit: P. Horálek/ESO⠀

#eso #universe #astronomy #nebula #stars #galaxy #lasilla #photogram


The Lupus 3 dark cloud and associated hot young stars. This evocative image shows a dark cloud where new stars are forming along with a cluster of brilliant stars that have already emerged from their dusty stellar nursery. This cloud is known as Lupus 3 and it lies about 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is likely that the Sun formed in a similar star formation region more than four billion years ago. This picture was taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile and is the best image ever taken of this little-known object.⠀

Image credit: ESO/F. Comeron⠀

#eso #astronomy #universe #stars #nebula #lasilla #photogram


Cosmic fireball falling over ALMA. ⠀

This beautiful image was taken during a time-lapse set at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). ⠀

Some of the 66 high-precision antennas that comprise ALMA are visible here, with dishes pointed aloft, studying the cold clouds in interstellar space, and peering deep into the past at our mysterious cosmic origins. ⠀

The spectacular javelin of light over the ALMA array is a shooting star, slicing through the image in a vivid streak of colours. ⠀

The brightest star in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin), known as Spica, and our neighbouring planet Mars glow brightly in the centre of the image — cosmic spectators to this fiery descent as they rise above the horizon. ⠀

Image credit: ESO/C. Malin ⠀

#eso #astronomy #alma #stars #photogram


ALMA and the centre of the Milky Way. ⠀

This view shows several of the ALMA antennas and the central regions of the Milky Way above. In this wide field view, the zodiacal light is seen upper right and at lower left Mars is seen. Saturn is a bit higher in the sky towards the centre of the image. The image was taken during the ESO Ultra HD (UHD) Expedition. ⠀

Image credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi ⠀

#eso #astronomy #alma #galaxy #photogram


ALMA image of the protoplanetary disc around HL Tauri.⠀

This image taken by ALMA is sharper than is routinely achieved in visible light with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It shows the protoplanetary disc surrounding the young star HL Tauri. These ALMA observations revealed substructures within the disc that had never been seen before and even showed the possible positions of planets forming in the dark patches within the system. ⠀

Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) ⠀

#eso #astronomy #alma #stars #photogram


Our #VIMOS instrument took one last photo before it was decommissioned on 24 March 2018. The image presents two interacting galaxies — NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 — together forming an intriguing astronomical object named Arp 271.⠀

VIMOS — or, in full, the VIsible Multi-Object Spectrograph — was active on the VLT for an impressive 16 years. During that time it helped scientists to uncover the wild early lives of massive galaxies, observe awe-inspiring triple-galaxy interactions, and explore deep cosmic questions such as how the Universe’s most massive galaxies grew so large. ⠀

Instead of focusing on single objects, VIMOS was able to capture detailed information about hundreds of galaxies at once. This sensitive instrument collected the spectra of tens of thousands of galaxies throughout the Universe, showing how they formed, grew, and evolved.⠀

Arp 271 is framed against a backdrop of distant galaxies in this view, and wisps of bluish gas, dust and young stars can be seen bridging the gap between the two galaxies — a result of their mutual gravitational interaction. Like many astronomical observations, this image looks back in time. Thanks to the vast gulf of space separating the Earth and Arp 271, this image shows how the galaxies looked over 110 million years ago: the amount of time it has taken their light to reach us. This kind of collision and merger is also thought to be the eventual fate of the Milky Way, which scientists believe will undergo a similar interaction with our neighbouring galaxy Andromeda.⠀

Image credit: ESO/Juan Carlos Muñoz⠀

#eso #universe #astronomy #galaxy #paranal #vlt #photogram