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UK scientists seal deal on European Extremely Large Telescope’s first-light spectrograph

23 September 2015 Astronomy Now

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.

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The Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy: a shy galactic neighbour

16 September 2015 Astronomy Now

The Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy, pictured in this new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory, is a close neighbour of the Milky Way. This galaxy is much smaller and older than ours, making it a valuable subject for studying both star and galaxy formation in the early universe. However, due to its faintness, studying this object is no easy task.

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Huge new survey to shine light on dark matter

11 July 2015 Astronomy Now

The first results have been released from a major new dark matter survey of the southern skies using ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VST KiDS survey will allow astronomers to make precise measurements of dark matter, the structure of galaxy halos, and the evolution of galaxies and clusters.

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Merging galaxies break radio silence

29 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A large Hubble survey confirms an unambiguous link between the presence of supermassive black holes that power high-speed, radio-signal-emitting jets and the merger history of their host galaxies. The results lend significant weight to the case for jets being the result of merging black holes.

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Colourful skies over ESO

21 April 2015 Keith Cooper

A kaleidoscope of colours hang above the giant structures of the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The scene is a mixture of a red sunset, the hazy zodiacal light and the pearlescent pinks of star-forming regions in our own Milky Way Galaxy.

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A dramatic starscape in the Southern Hemisphere

29 March 2015 Astronomy Now

This view in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar) is a treasure trove of celestial objects. Star clusters, emission nebulae and active star-forming regions are just some of the riches observed in this region lying some 4000 light-years from Earth.

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Supermassive black hole blasts star-making gas from galaxy’s core

26 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Many galaxies blast huge, wide-angled flows of material outward from their centres, pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year that otherwise would have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our Sun. A team led by University of Maryland scientists has found the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows.