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Top Stories

Earthshine used to test life detection method
...By imagining the Earth as an exoplanet, scientists observing our planet's reflected light on the Moon with ESO's Very Large Telescope have demonstrated a way to detect life on other worlds...

Solid buckyballs discovered in space
...Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have detected a particular type of molecule, given the nickname “buckyball”, in a solid form for the first time...

Steamy water-world gets the Hubble treatment
...Hubble Space Telescope observations of a 7 Earth-mass planet find an unusual water-rich world swathed in a thick, steamy atmosphere...

Vivid vista shines light on Galactic Centre
Posted: September 21, 2009

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The European Southern Observatory has today released the second of three new breath-taking portraits showing the Milky Way in unprecedented detail.

The latest vista from ESO's GigaGalaxy Zoom project homes in on the central parts of our Milky Way Galaxy. Click for link to high resolution image. Image: ESO/S Guisard.

The 34 by 20 degree wide, 340-million pixel offering was taken from ESO's Very Large Telescope location at Paranal by world-renowned astrophotographer Stephane Guisard. Approximately 1,200 images totally more than 200 hours exposure time and collected over 29 nights went into creating this remarkable true-colour mosaic of the Galactic Centre.

“The area I have depicted in this image is an incredibly rich region of the sky, and the one I find most beautiful,” says Guisard.

The image spans the region of sky from the constellation of Sagittarius to Scorpius. The very bright and colourful feature towards the right of the image are the Rho Ophiuchi and Antares regions. Darker areas such as the Pipe and Snake nebulae also stand out.

The dusty lane of our Milky Way runs obliquely through the image, punctuated with bright, reddish nebulae including the Lagoon and the Trifid nebulae. A supermassive black hole also lurks within the dark lane, at the very centre of our Galaxy.

This spectacular starscape is the second of three extremely high resolution images featured in the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, launched by ESO as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The first image was a magnificent 800-million-pixel panorama of the entire sky. The third GigaGalaxy Zoom image will be revealed next week.

For more information about the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, visit their website here.

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!


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