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.
Astrophysicists have taken a major step forward in understanding how supermassive black holes formed. Using data from three of NASA’s space telescopes, Italian researchers have found the best evidence to date that the direct collapse of a gas cloud produced supermassive black holes in the early universe.
ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile hosted an event to mark the first light for the four powerful lasers that form a crucial part of the adaptive optics systems on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Attendees were treated to a spectacular display of the most powerful laser guide stars ever used for astronomy against the majestic southern sky.
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) have found the clearest indications yet that planets with masses several times that of Jupiter have recently formed in the discs of gas and dust around four young stars. Measurements of the gas around the stars also provide additional clues about the properties of those planets.
ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared.
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.