(via ESO - potw1312a - The Lost Galaxy)
FORS1 on the VLT captures NGC4535 in a shot that looks clear and bright, but you can imagine that the fuzziness that you see here in the world’s most advanced optical telescope would be even more so in the 1950s. Thus, the ghostly appearance gives the nickname The Lost Galaxy.
This barred spiral is visible out through Virgo and is, in fact, one of the larger members of the Virgo Cluster, the dominant cluster in the Virgo Supercluster, to which our Local Group of galaxies, including the Milky Way and  Andromeda, belongs.

(via ESO - potw1312a - The Lost Galaxy)

FORS1 on the VLT captures NGC4535 in a shot that looks clear and bright, but you can imagine that the fuzziness that you see here in the world’s most advanced optical telescope would be even more so in the 1950s. Thus, the ghostly appearance gives the nickname The Lost Galaxy.

This barred spiral is visible out through Virgo and is, in fact, one of the larger members of the Virgo Cluster, the dominant cluster in the Virgo Supercluster, to which our Local Group of galaxies, including the Milky Way and  Andromeda, belongs.

(via APOD: 2012 December 15)
When Gemini Sends Stars to Paranal
Image Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Guisard (Los Cielos de America), TWAN
The ESO, the darkened skies over Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, the Very Large Telescopes (VLT - big buildings in the middle), the Auxiliary Telescopes (for VLT interferometry - short ones that don’t look like they have hoods), and the new VLT Survey Telescope (looks like a mini-VLT on the right), all combine to make a great foreground for a shot of the Geminid meteor shower.
This multi-exposure, long-shutter (20 seconds) composite points toward the constellation Gemini, so the meteor are streaking very obviously from their radiant. Jupiter is the bright ball on the left, with Orion obvious above it, and the faint trail of the Milky Way in the middle.

(via APOD: 2012 December 15)

When Gemini Sends Stars to Paranal

Image Credit & CopyrightStéphane Guisard (Los Cielos de America), TWAN

The ESO, the darkened skies over Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, the Very Large Telescopes (VLT - big buildings in the middle), the Auxiliary Telescopes (for VLT interferometry - short ones that don’t look like they have hoods), and the new VLT Survey Telescope (looks like a mini-VLT on the right), all combine to make a great foreground for a shot of the Geminid meteor shower.

This multi-exposure, long-shutter (20 seconds) composite points toward the constellation Gemini, so the meteor are streaking very obviously from their radiant. Jupiter is the bright ball on the left, with Orion obvious above it, and the faint trail of the Milky Way in the middle.

Hey! I was a runner-up in the “Tweet Your Way to the VLT” competition. I almost went on an observing run in Chile at Paranal. (Probably not really, but it’s great to think about.)

As it is, I get a package of ESO goodies, DVDs, books, posters, etc.

The winner, Brigitte Bailleul, a freelance writer in France, will travel to the Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile to work on the observing run chosen in the other competition, an open vote to choose what the VLT observes. For what I suspect are rather obvious reasons to anyone connecting “internet” and “vote”, the winner what the Thor’s Helmet Nebula (NGC 2359). As the ESO’s outreach astronomer states, though, it’s an interesting object anyway, as it has a distinctive shape and the star at its center is massive, hot, and ready to go supernova.

You can read more about the two contests and the winners here:

http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann12060/ 

(via APOD: 2012 April 21 - 3 ATs)
They look like R2D2, but are the ATs for Panaral, so they’re AT-AT-AT, I guess?
Anyway, “AT” stands for Auxiliary Telescope, 1.8 meter movable telescopes designed to be used for interferometry in tandem with the 8 m Very Large Telescope units. Interferometry allows for very high resolution observations without having to build quite so monolithically large a mirror in the telescope. You use the observations from all the various ‘scopes to reduce interference from the atmosphere (by compensating for the effects of the air) and collect as much light as possible. It requires the light to all be added together and collected in underground tunnels with mirrors.
Pretty nifty “little” droids, if you ask me.
Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (ESO)

(via APOD: 2012 April 21 - 3 ATs)

They look like R2D2, but are the ATs for Panaral, so they’re AT-AT-AT, I guess?

Anyway, “AT” stands for Auxiliary Telescope, 1.8 meter movable telescopes designed to be used for interferometry in tandem with the 8 m Very Large Telescope units. Interferometry allows for very high resolution observations without having to build quite so monolithically large a mirror in the telescope. You use the observations from all the various ‘scopes to reduce interference from the atmosphere (by compensating for the effects of the air) and collect as much light as possible. It requires the light to all be added together and collected in underground tunnels with mirrors.

Pretty nifty “little” droids, if you ask me.

Image Credit & CopyrightYuri Beletsky (ESO)

universalnomad
scipsy:

Stellar Cluster NGC 1850 in the LMC

[The image] shows that there is indeed still much gas around NGC 1850. While part of this may well be the remnant of the “parent” gas cloud (i.e. the one from which both clusters were born), the presence of filaments and of various sharp “shocks”, e.g. to the left and below NGC 1850, offers support to the theory of supernova-induced star birth in the younger of the two clusters. Some “protostars” are located near or in some of the filaments — this is interpreted as additional evidence for that theory. The nebulosity directly above the main cluster, that is shaped like a “3”, is the well-known supernova remnant N57D which itself may also be associated with NGC 1850.
Credit: ESO
I figured a straight quote from the ESO site would explain a good chunk of why this image is so cool. I’d include all the technical specs, but I’m sure those who actually care will probably click through and read them.
The brief overview is that this is a 300 x 300 light-year2 composite from one of the unit telescopes at the Very Large Telescope, VLT, down in Chile. Three filters, including a Hydrogen-alpha filter in the familiar red, were used to bring out as much intricate detail as possible, especially in the gas filaments.
Note that this shot is from just one of the main unit telescopes at the VLT. If all four telescopes are used in interferometry mode, they have a resolving power that would be like being able to differentiate the headlights on a car at the distance of the Moon.

scipsy:

Stellar Cluster NGC 1850 in the LMC

[The image] shows that there is indeed still much gas around NGC 1850. While part of this may well be the remnant of the “parent” gas cloud (i.e. the one from which both clusters were born), the presence of filaments and of various sharp “shocks”, e.g. to the left and below NGC 1850, offers support to the theory of supernova-induced star birth in the younger of the two clusters. Some “protostars” are located near or in some of the filaments — this is interpreted as additional evidence for that theory. The nebulosity directly above the main cluster, that is shaped like a “3”, is the well-known supernova remnant N57D which itself may also be associated with NGC 1850.

Credit: ESO

I figured a straight quote from the ESO site would explain a good chunk of why this image is so cool. I’d include all the technical specs, but I’m sure those who actually care will probably click through and read them.

The brief overview is that this is a 300 x 300 light-year2 composite from one of the unit telescopes at the Very Large Telescope, VLT, down in Chile. Three filters, including a Hydrogen-alpha filter in the familiar red, were used to bring out as much intricate detail as possible, especially in the gas filaments.

Note that this shot is from just one of the main unit telescopes at the VLT. If all four telescopes are used in interferometry mode, they have a resolving power that would be like being able to differentiate the headlights on a car at the distance of the Moon.

(via Gravitational lens reveals details of distant, ancient galaxy | UChicago News)
I’ve been wondering when someone would start to do this. Cosmologists at UChicago have taken VLT data, Hubble Wide-Field 3 data, and some serious computer modeling and optics/relativity reverse-engineering to use a galaxy cluster’s gravitational lensing effect as a telescope.
The reconstructed galaxy at the lower-left is based on the relativistic warping created by the foreground galaxy cluster on the circled warped and repeated images of the galaxy itself, which is actually behind the cluster.

(via Gravitational lens reveals details of distant, ancient galaxy | UChicago News)

I’ve been wondering when someone would start to do this. Cosmologists at UChicago have taken VLT data, Hubble Wide-Field 3 data, and some serious computer modeling and optics/relativity reverse-engineering to use a galaxy cluster’s gravitational lensing effect as a telescope.

The reconstructed galaxy at the lower-left is based on the relativistic warping created by the foreground galaxy cluster on the circled warped and repeated images of the galaxy itself, which is actually behind the cluster.

(via APOD: 2012 January 7 - Grand Spiral Galaxy NGC 1232)
NGC 1232 is an amazing grand spiral galaxy, and this shot from the VLT also shows a nice barred spiral off to the left. There’s a lot to see, open clusters of hot bright blue stars, dust lanes, dimmer main sequence stars, but there’s also a whole lot that we can’t see. Just plain can’t. In order to explain how fast the outer arms of the spiral move, there has to be twice the mass of what we can detect somewhere out past the edge of the galaxy, and interleaved through it. Dark matter dominates the motion of the galaxy.
Image Credit: FORS, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO

(via APOD: 2012 January 7 - Grand Spiral Galaxy NGC 1232)

NGC 1232 is an amazing grand spiral galaxy, and this shot from the VLT also shows a nice barred spiral off to the left. There’s a lot to see, open clusters of hot bright blue stars, dust lanes, dimmer main sequence stars, but there’s also a whole lot that we can’t see. Just plain can’t. In order to explain how fast the outer arms of the spiral move, there has to be twice the mass of what we can detect somewhere out past the edge of the galaxy, and interleaved through it. Dark matter dominates the motion of the galaxy.

Image Credit: FORS8.2-meter VLT AntuESO

(via APOD: 2011 December 28 - Comet Lovejoy over Paranal)
This is the dome of one of the VLT units in Paranal, Chile, with Comet Lovejoy and the Milky Way providing an amazing background. If you look on the other side of the telescope, you can see the two most visible satellite galaxies to the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
Image Credit & Copyright: Guillaume Blanchard

(via APOD: 2011 December 28 - Comet Lovejoy over Paranal)

This is the dome of one of the VLT units in Paranal, Chile, with Comet Lovejoy and the Milky Way providing an amazing background. If you look on the other side of the telescope, you can see the two most visible satellite galaxies to the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Image Credit & CopyrightGuillaume Blanchard

(via Galaxy cluster collision makes a splash… a million light years long! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine)
Holy…wow. Put Chandra and the VLT on a galaxy-cluster collision and this is what you see.
For reference, the mass of the object here is a quadrillion times that of the Sun. (The Milky Way, for reference, is a hundred-billion times the Sun’s mass, 10,000 times less massive.) The “tail” coming off of it is a million light-years long (our galaxy is 100,000 light-years across), and is the result of the gravitational tidal forces as the two clusters ran into each other. (As Phil says, the astronomers who imaged this tell us it’s like swirling wine in a glass, and then suddenly swirling it faster, you get a big slosh.)
Phil also noted a similarity that tumblr will appreciate:

(via Galaxy cluster collision makes a splash… a million light years long! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine)

Holy…wow. Put Chandra and the VLT on a galaxy-cluster collision and this is what you see.

For reference, the mass of the object here is a quadrillion times that of the Sun. (The Milky Way, for reference, is a hundred-billion times the Sun’s mass, 10,000 times less massive.) The “tail” coming off of it is a million light-years long (our galaxy is 100,000 light-years across), and is the result of the gravitational tidal forces as the two clusters ran into each other. (As Phil says, the astronomers who imaged this tell us it’s like swirling wine in a glass, and then suddenly swirling it faster, you get a big slosh.)

Phil also noted a similarity that tumblr will appreciate: