The Milky Way dazzles above the La Silla Observatory in Chile, framed by the now-deactivated Swedish-European Southern Observatory submillimetre telescope on the left and ESO’s 3.6-metre (11.8-foot) optical telescope on the right. But the Milky Way is the star of the show with the reddish Gum Nebula at the peak of the arc and the Large and Small Magellanic clouds visible just above and to the right of the dish antenna. Brilliant Jupiter shines above and to the left of the 3.6-metre telescope’s dome.
Astronomers using the VISTA telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory have discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way. By mapping out the locations of a class of stars that vary in brightness called Cepheids, a disc of young stars buried behind thick dust clouds in the central bulge has been found.
At a ceremony held today in Germany, the European Southern Observatory and the ACe Consortium signed the largest contract ever in ground-based astronomy for key components of the 39-metre aperture European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The 85-metre-diameter, 5000 tonne dome and telescope structure will take telescope engineering into new territory.