Awesome telescope sheds new light on cosmos
Messier 17, or Omega Nebula, is shown in dazzling color in the first images transmitted from the new VLT Survey Telescope.
June 8th, 2011
09:14 AM ET

Awesome telescope sheds new light on cosmos

From a mountaintop in northern Chile, the largest visible-light telescope in the world has captured stunning images of the cosmos in never-before-seen detail.

The Paranal Observatory released initial images Wednesday from the powerful VLT Survey Telescope.

The images constitute a celestial breakthrough for the 15-nation European Southern Observatory, which runs the Paranal Observatory and has worked with astronomers to build telescopes that survey the sky in large segments.

“The VST project has overcome many difficulties but it is now repaying, with its excellent image quality, the expectations of the astronomical community and the efforts of the many people at INAF (Italian National Institute for Astrophysics) involved in its construction," Tommaso Maccacaro, head of the INAF, said in an ESO press release. "I am very pleased to see the VST in operation,” he said.

The VST image of the star-forming cluster Messier 17, so awesome it has at least three other descriptive names - Omega Nebula, Swan Nebula and Horseshoe Nebula - shows swaddling bands of light in astonishing clarity.

The ESO images are the fruits of the new VLT Survey Telescope and the "monster camera," OmegaCAM, which produces 268-megapixel images.

The new telescope sits among four other high-powered instruments on the summit of Cerro Paranal in Chile's Atacama Desert, an optimum location far enough from city lights to view celestial wonders.

Also released by the ESO was an image of the stellar cluster Omega Centauri, showing about 300,000 stars, according to the release.

The VST will make three public surveys over the next five years, the release said.

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Filed under: Science • Solar System • Space
soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. rooney

    These images are pretty cool. I always liked the hubble ones too. I live in a large city so I can't really see the stars and stuff very well, to many lights.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. CSnSC

    Amazing, pix look like "artist enhanced" Hubbel pix from a few years back.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    That must indeed be an awesome telescope if the light on the universe comes out of the telescope!
    Where does it get so much power?
    That's sure to reinforce Al Gore's point about global wa–climate change.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Silly and not even funny Straw-Man argument.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Xasthur


    June 8, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |

    Some people are idiots. Casey Anthony? are you serious? I could care less about her case......sigh....anyway the pics are breathtaking, and knowing that the majority of those pinpoints of light are stars and most have planets leads me to believe there has to be other life out there. So many stars in that one photo and it represents only a tiny fraction of our galaxy, let alone the universe.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      I'm with you, Will. It also makes me wonder if there could be other intelligent life out there, looking at us as we are looking at them.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    I won't take any of your far fetched specualtive statements into account. Hell you don't know the first thing about punctuation. I doubt you are even into your 20's.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Rynoceros

      I don't know where you were raised, but most Americans learn correct punctuation around the age of seven. Not in their twenties. A**hole.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      Actually when I was in my twenties I was completing my first masters degree and had begun a doctorate degree. I had also completed additional graduate work, by this point. Later I began my second masters degree. Of course I have continued my studies, since completing my last graduate program.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CSnSC

    @Michael. You know what you just posted unintelligeble, right ?

    June 8, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Original post most of been reported off, it was someone saying casey anthony was innocent.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jimmyjam048

    Behold, the glory of God's creation.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • MC

      Easter bunny made that nebula, bible says so. He made it on easter.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Yes, thank Zeus

      Why would you think a man created deity would be able to create an explosion in space of a star? Because he is all powerful? If so, then why does he allow the suffering of children? Many times at the hands of religious cases.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • UMeat

      Man created gods long after that nebula came into existence.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. InSpirtandTruth

    I am in awe,... God woos me every single time.
    All glory to God.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • B

      God's not real.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. MC

    Two uses of the word "Awesome" in one article – and one use being the headline. I guess CNN just got a new crop of interns in. Awesome!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  11. SgtSerge

    Wow, amazing pictures, I was waiting for this thing to come on line and look farther and clearer than every before.
    Quite amazing what mirrors can do.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. N49

    What does it all mean???My head hurts

    June 8, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. JustPlainJoe

    Now THIS is a real "Shock and Awe". The universe is full of wonders. If only the average american could see beyond the mundane.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Until this Earth can't support our population, or we destroy the planet's ability to maintain atmosphere by killing all the trees, or are tired of killing each other over land and finally band together to focus on developing interstellar travel, we're going to be stuck doing the same things: sending the kids to school, mowing the lawn, paying the rent (which is too **** high), and going to work. Sad, but true.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Justin

    so beautiful. so amazing to try and grasp in your head too. if i was way smarter, had way less of a life, and had way less kids and wife, i would love to be an astronomer.

    is it true they had artist enhanced hubble pics before?

    June 8, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Not artist-enhanced, just added color.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. George Harmes


    June 8, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Because we don't need one on the moon. The Hubble works just fine. Besides, the distance from the moon vs. distance from earth orbit is really insignificant in an infinite universe.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • and George

      We only see one side of the moon.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Angeleyes

      Because we never actually landed on the moon. READ PEOPLE!!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael500ca

      The people do read Angeleyes. Most don't believe in your made up story about it being a hoax. It has been proven many times that we did land on the moon. READ ACTUAL FACTS CONSPIRACY THEORISTS!

      June 10, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael500ca

      And to George Harmes. Caps off. A telescope in deep space is better. They realized that on the moon you get back glare. Deep space at one of the Lagrange points is better. The James Webb Telescope will be at one of these points.

      June 10, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
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