The clear night sky offers one of the most beautiful views in nature. The eye adapts to the dark and the pupil widens to collect more light and thus allow fainter stars to become visible. But the light-collecting area of the human eye is tiny. To peer much deeper into the night sky astronomers need telescopes with enormous primary mirrors to do a much better job.
In this ESOcast we look at how astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67. Although more than one thousand planets outside the Solar System are now confirmed, only a handful have been found in star clusters. Remarkably one of these new exoplanets is orbiting a star that is a rare solar twin — a star that is almost identical to the Sun in all respects.
In this episode of Chile Chill we take a closer look at the telescopes and instruments of ESO's first observatory at La Silla in northern Chile.
Astronomers know that planets around other stars beyond the Solar System are common. But these planets are very hard to see and even harder to study. Fortunately, there is a clever trick that helps to separate the feeble glow of a planet from the dazzling glare of its parent star: exploiting the polarisation of the light reflected from the planet.
This ESOcast explores the wealth of stunning astronomical images produced over a period of almost 30 years by the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.
The detection of this “dust trap” solves a long-standing mystery: how dust particles around stars sum up to form planets, comets, and other rocky bodies. ESOcast 58 goes deep into the dust trap to explore how this comet factory works.
May 25 2013 is an important anniversary for the Very Large Telescope – it is exactly fifteen years since the first light on the first of its four Unit Telescopes. Since then the four original giant telescopes have been joined by the four small Auxiliary Telescopes that form part of the VLT Interferometer (VLTI). The VLT is one of the most powerful and productive ground-based astronomical facilities in existence. In 2012 more than 600 refereed scientific papers based on data from the VLT and VLTI were published. This ESOcast shows spectacular images from the VLT for every year of its operation.
For our newest ESOcast, we pose this puzzle: how do you move a 100-tonne giant ALMA antenna 30 kilometres up onto the oxygen-starved Chajnantor Plateau, 5000 metres above sea level and finish the job with millimetre precision?
This 16-minute video presents the history of ALMA from the origins of the project several decades ago to the recent first science results. Illustrated by dramatic helicopter footage, the movie takes you on a journey to the 5000-metre-high Chajnantor Plateau, where ALMA stands, in the unique environment of the Atacama Desert of Chile.
The ALMA inauguration ESOcast. Share the excitement of the inauguration ceremony and contemplate the breathtaking images from ALMA itself and views of its unique environment in the Atacama Desert. This event marks the completion of all the major systems of the giant telescope and the formal transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory. ALMA is a partnership between Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.
This is the third installment of Chile Chill, a type of ESOcast designed to offer a calm experience of the Chilean night sky and ESO’s observing sites, undisturbed by facts or narration. In this episode we are treated to stunning views of the Atacama Desert, including the conical volcano Licancabur and slow moonrises over the Andes.
A video podcast by Gianluca Lombardi celebrating the Geminid meteor shower.
One of the most powerful supercomputers in the world has now been fully installed and tested at its remote, high altitude site in the Andes of northern Chile. This marks one of the major remaining milestones toward completion of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most elaborate ground-based telescope in history. The special-purpose ALMA correlator has over 134 million processors and performs up to 17 quadrillion operations per second, a speed comparable to the fastest general-purpose supercomputer in operation today.
This episode of the ESOcast introduces a new type of ESOcasts called "Chile Chill". These ESOcasts offer a calm experience of the Chilean night sky and ESO's observatory sites, undisturbed by facts or narration. In this episode we follow a typical night of observing for ESO's telescopes.