The latest telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile -- the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) -- was inaugurated today at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) Observatory of Capodimonte, in Naples, Italy. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, the INAF President, Giovanni Bignami, the ESO representatives Bruno Leibundgut and Roberto Tamai, and the main promoter of the telescope, Massimo Capaccioli of the University of Naples Federico II and INAF.
The VST is a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre telescope, with the huge 268-megapixel camera OmegaCAM at its heart. It is designed to map the sky both quickly and with very fine image quality. The VST is a joint venture between ESO and INAF and OmegaCam has been provided by the OmegaCam consortium. This new telescope is the largest telescope in the world exclusively dedicated to surveying the sky at visible wavelengths . The occasion of the inauguration has been marked by the release of a dramatic picture of the Carina Nebula taken with the new telescope.
This star formation region is one of the most prominent and frequently imaged objects of the southern sky. It has been the subject of many earlier images with ESO telescopes. However, the glowing gas cloud is huge and it is difficult for most large telescopes to study more than a tiny part of it at once. This makes it an ideal target for the VLT Survey Telescope and its big camera, OmegaCAM. The VST delivers very sharp images because of its high quality optics and the excellent site. But, as it was designed for surveys of the sky, it also has a very wide field of view that can take in almost all of the Carina Nebula in a single picture.
This object was a natural target when the President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, accompanied by the First Lady, Cecilia Morel, were distinguished guests at the Paranal Observatory on 5 June 2012 and participated in observations with the VST. The picture that the President helped to take on this occasion has now been combined with other recent VST images of the Carina Nebula to produce one of the most richly detailed and colourful views of this object ever created.
The Carina Nebula is a huge stellar nursery lying about 7500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Carina (The Keel). This cloud of glowing gas and dust is one of the closest star formation regions to the Earth and includes several of the brightest and most massive stars known. The Carina Nebula is a perfect laboratory for astronomers studying the violent births and early lives of stars.
The conspicuous red colour of the picture comes from hydrogen gas in the nebula that is glowing under the harsh ultraviolet light from many young and hot stars. Other colours, originating from other elements in the gas, are also visible, as well as many dust clouds. Just above the centre of the picture lies the bright star Eta Carinae. This huge and highly unstable star brightened dramatically in the nineteenth century and is a good candidate for a future supernova explosion.
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
NASA's Mars 2020 rover will be bristling with new gadgets, including a camera with zoom, an enhanced laser, and equipment for turning CO2 into oxygen
Astronaut Reid Wiseman may be known for prolifically posting photos of Earth from the International Space Station, but his counterpart Astronaut Alexander Gerst is snap-happy too — and Gerst's photos are much more abstract, beautiful in their own different right
The image above shows a simulation of Jupiter’s magnetic field, whose intricate complexities make it extremely difficult to accurately model. While it may look like the gas giant is vomiting up some enormous space worms, the visualization is actually capturing details of the gas giant’s magnetism with greater precision than ever before.
Two simulated trips to space, on a Hawaiian volcano and underwater off Florida, have just ended. What do these fake expeditions help astronauts learn?
"It's amazing. It truly is. Given all the things that can fail," NASA official says
It turns out that our nearest neighbor in space is sort of a squashed sphere. The lead author in a new paper published in Nature describes it as "a lemon with an equatorial bulge."
These "techno archaeologists" are using DIY engineering to revamp NASA's early moon pics.
Sex experiments involving lizards appear back on track after communications with Photon-M satellite are re-established
Delivering fuel, food and a game of Pong for astronauts on the ISS, the final launch of the ATV prepares the European Space Agency for crewed moon missions
Rocket boosts pair of space surveillance spacecraft toward orbit to monitor space debris and anything else that might threaten U.S. military satellites