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. Chaz

    God is real. Jesus saves.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Too bad he only gets 1.09% interest right now.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vinny

    why do some of you God hating hippie terrorist sympathizers feel the need to turn a simple picture of space into a religious topic. Shouldnt you be off somewhere trying to prosecute a human for killing a mosquito or something? Liberals will use anyrhing to try to push their agenda on the rest of us

    June 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Why do you flat-earther hypocritical twits have to do the same thing? This is about science, not fables. Just relax and enjoy the pictures, and keep your worthless revelations to yourself. We don't admire ammoral people, we admire reason and the beauty of the universe we inhabit.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emily

      Wow! What a beautiful picture...makes you think! By the way, I'm anthiest but geez don't put us all in the category of terrorist loving and not willing to kill mosquitoes. Just like any other religion there are very militant anthiest's and there are what I like to call laid back athiest's like me. I just simply don't believe in a GOD of any kind. On top of that if someone wants to believe in a GOD .....well isn't that what this country is about. Oh an PLEASE kill all the mosquitoes!

      June 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Funny, my experience is that conservatives do the same thing.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • UMeat

      I don't hate god because he doesn't exist, but I'm not too keen on bigoted religious fascists.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. StevieB

    I visisted because of the awsome picture of a part of the universe. I would like to more pictures of this quality.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    What's all of this god-talk? A photo of the deepest cosmos doesn't teach us anything about the nature or intent of creation...except perhaps how small we are. The next time you wipe the dust off the top of your furniture, consider that each speck of that dust is larger in proportion to the entire earth than the entire earth is to the known universe. Then perhaps you can grasp that all of our human imaginings about how important we are, the sole purpose of god's creation, do not even amount to dust in the wind.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. It's The Government's Fault

    Clearly this is an Obamas sponsered plan designed to distract from the most recent jobless numbers. These photos were photoshopped by democrats.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrish

      As much as I love to photoshopped – I just couldn't to those images justice. 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jason


    June 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Texan86

    The argument that there has to be a God because cause and effect must have an initial start is attractive yet not necessarily compeling. Whether you believe in God or not we all have to admit that we can not understand how space is finite or infinite. Either one is impossible for us to comprehend. For that same reason we can not comprehend how space has always been here or not.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patrish

    Lovely images of the universe, and someone has to spoil it by bring up religion. I would love to move to a planet which does not have humans......

    June 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Raf

    People, its a beautiful picture. Leave your arguments at the door and just enjoy something in way we've never seen before...

    June 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Barry


    I don’t know that taking a course in philosophy makes one an authority on subject, nor would enable a person to be a critic of philosophical discourse.

    Have you read the Works of Plato, Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics?

    If so I would like to ask you some questions that have been on my mind about these matters, for the past few decades.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CSnSC

    Humans will have reached their apex when we realize that science and faith are not exclusive to each other. We'll know when we stop arguing like angry children.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DRTSAT

    I'm not religious but at the same time I don't begrudge anyone their religion. I'm not an Athiest but I don't look down on them either. Who am I to criticize people of faith or those lacking it? What I do criticize is the mindless rants of of people who are either Religious Zealots or Rabidly anti-religion. The Religious Zealots think everone who doesn't think like them is going to hell or some other form of eternal torture and they try to force it on everyone. Even those who believe in god. Then you have those that are Rabidly anti-religion that go out of their way to restrict prayer in schools, remove "In God We Trust' from our money or put up billboards saying Christmas is a fairytale. In the end, everyone dies. Only then will you find out (or maybe not). Good article though. I want to see more of the pictures.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in Va

      Well, said, it is the partisans and radicals in each camp that make it bad for all. Tolerance for individual beliefs is needed. Those that believe in religion shouldn't push it onto others but those that doen't believe shouldn't see one's beliefs as lack if intelligence.

      Sad this story was hi-jacked by the radicals on each side. The picture is amazing, would really like to see more.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jobe 69:69

    Here is the location of the FULL SIZE image in all of its 268 MegaPixel glory!
    (There is no screen on this planet with a resolution that high so be sure to zoom in lots on different spots in the picture!!!)

    June 8, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jobe 12

    Full Size Image Download!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • carlos

      Nice work jobe 12. Thanks

      June 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CSnSC

    For now its pointless to argue. We are not capable of winning. We bring our beliefs with us. Niether atheists nor faithful can look at pure truth/science without our subconcience already having skewed the results of our study

    June 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      The heavens declare the glory of God;
      the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • David, CA

      @ John- and his followers will misinterpret the meaning of it all and use it against one another, justifying their atrocities with their misinterpretations.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
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