The European Southern Observatory’s “Cosmic Gems” programme is an ongoing initiative to collect astronomical images of educational interest and public outreach, showcasing the institution’s powerful telescopes during periods when they cannot be used for science observations. This composite image, captured by the Very Large Telescope’s FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph, or FORS, instrument shows a patch of sky in the Crux, or Southern Cross, constellation, a particularly bright section of the Milky Way packed with stars. The use of filters brings out spectacular blues and reds.
Spectacular new observations of vast pillar-like structures within the Carina Nebula have been made using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The different pillars analysed by an international team seem to be pillars of destruction — in contrast to the name of the iconic Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, which are of similar nature.
The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) has been used to detect the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early universe. The new observations allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionisation.
In preparation for the imminent arrival of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to obtain spectacular new infrared images of Jupiter as part of a campaign to create high-resolution maps of the giant planet. These observations will help astronomers to better understand the gas giant ahead of Juno’s close encounter next month.