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.
UK researchers have just signed an agreement to lead one of the first instruments for what will become the World’s largest visible and infrared telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The spectrograph, called HARMONI, will provide the European Southern Observatory’s telescope with a sensitivity that is up to hundreds of times better than any current telescope of its kind.
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have conducted the first search for atmospheres around temperate, Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system. They found indications that increase the chances of habitability on two exoplanets known as TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c orbiting a red dwarf star approximately 40 light-years away.