Posted: February 12th, 2012 | Author: Michael Courtenay | Filed under: Applied Science, Astronomy, Cankler Science News | Tags: astronomy, Chile, ESO, European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Very Large Telescope, Virtual Telescope, VLT | Comments Off on ESO’s VLT Team Create Worlds Largest Virtual Telescope
ESO – European Southern Observatory – astronomers in Chile have created the world’s largest virtual optical telescope by using a special technique to combine images from the four most powerful devices as if they were one. “This weekend we managed to finish the process (of merging the images) after almost a year,” says Jean-Philippe Berger, a scientist at the European Southern Observatory which operates the Very Large Telescope array – VLT – in Chile’s high northern desert. For the first time, we made scientific observations through this new instrument, and we can say that it can be used.”
The ESO’s VLT complex in Paranal includes four large optical telescopes, each of which are about 30 metres high and have mirrors eight metres in diameter. The astronomers brought together the signals received by the four telescopes thanks to a technique known as interferometry, which combines the images from the four to achieve a higher resolution image. This creates a virtual mirror which is the equivalent of 130 metres in diameter and, according to Berger, improves the resolution and the ability to “zoom” in on the cosmos. Read the full article »»»»
Posted: December 14th, 2011 | Author: M.Aaron Silverman | Filed under: Applied Science, Astronomy, Cankler Science News | Tags: ESO, eso0846, MPE, Sagittarius A, Sgr A, Very Large Telescope, VLT | Comments Off on ESO Watches As Block Hole Eats Gas Cloud
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a gas cloud with several times the mass of the Earth accelerating fast towards the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. This is the first time ever that the approach of such a doomed cloud to a supermassive black hole has been observed. The results will be published in the 5 January 2012 issue of the journal Nature.
During a 20-year programme using ESO telescopes to monitor the movement of stars around the supermassive black hole – eso0846, formally known as Sgr A*  Sagittarius A – at the centre of our galaxy, a team of astronomers led by Reinhard Genzel at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics – MPE – in Garching, Germany, has discovered a unique new object fast approaching the black hole.
Over the last seven years, the speed of this object has nearly doubled, reaching more than 8 million km/h. It is on a very elongated orbit  and in mid-2013 it will pass at a distance of only about 40 billion kilometres from the event horizon of the black hole, a distance of about 36 light-hours . This is an extremely close encounter with a supermassive black hole in astronomical terms. Read the full article »»»»