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. Case Settled!


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

      and this is proooof how exactly? It's someone's opinion.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • David, CA

      It's amazing what lengths creationists will go to in order to reconcile scientific facts with what's written in their holy book. This guy is taking a fresh approach – just accept both sides of the argument and "meld" them together. I guess if you're going to believe all 1200 pages of nonsense in the Bible, a few extra pages of pseudo-scientific twaddle like that found on Gerald's website should be pretty easy to swallow. Trying to blend the biblical mythologies with science to make them sound more credible is nothing new. Churches have done it since their inception.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Show me yours and I'll show you mine

    What absolute proof do you have that God exists?

    June 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ismail Danilo Go

      Everything you see created by Our God Allah The Most High then if you think to see is too believe, what for is the meaning of Prophets

      June 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nural

    let us assume there is a god ,why you think that god is a jew or a Christin?the bible contradicts itself and full with killing and racism,how it can be that god created this world befor 7000 years????

    June 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CSnSC

    Well said John. And knowing all human logic is ultimately flawed, both extremes are beating thier heads together. But they know that.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ficheye

    This is a picture of a nebula. Out in space. Why this has been transformed into another discussion about god is predictable. Religion came into being because of humans inability to deal with the vastness of space. They fear it.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • RedDahlia

      I know!! Ridiculous! It seems like some people are not able to talk about anything else but god and religion.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ferm

    Scientists proved that anti-matter exists and that when this anti-matter touches matter, they cancel themselves out in a form of flash of light.

    The thing that got me thinking is, if we as a Life form occupy this space WE see as matter, what opposite of Life being occupies that space we now know and called "antimatter"?

    June 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • A K Balamuruhan

      I suppose, positron is not the antimatter counterpart to electron, since their mass are same. Antimatter should have everything opposite to that of matter, viz, mass charge... We are not finding equal amount of antimatter as that of matter, since since, positron is not the antimatter. Then what is really antimatter? Please visit,

      June 9, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. mohannad d f

    No god just god is the answer for every question

    and god makes for islam to live for this long time and more than billion peaple who follow islam

    islam is the last message from god and have all answer for hell and haven and all thing u may ask

    June 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Barry

    It’s interesting that you should say that.

    Do you know that in the first and second century, the pagans referred to the Jews and Christians as atheists, because they didn’t believe in the traditional gods, and because they believed in an invisible God?

    Furthermore when the Romans began to persecute and execute the Christians, one of the main complaints people had with the Christians was that they were so obstinate or stubborn in their belief and commitment to Christ.

    The pagans couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t deny their God and join in the festivities.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Max

    Absolutely stunning. With all the breakthrough`s in Europe with ESO, the Large Hadron Collider, The ITER Fusion reactor, The European Spallation source, The A380, The European 42 Meter Telescope etc..etc.. It`s not strange so many of our scientists and engineers are moving to Europe to work and live their. Like at locations as CERN. Let`s hope the US can remain the science leader at least in some areas. With the coming budget cuts to reduce the ballooning debt problems it doesn`t seem so likely. Sigh. Our parents lived in a time when the US was booming. We as the new generation are left with an indebted and declining nation.

    If this get`s worse i will follow those scientists and engineers. Our Republican and Democratic parties are to busy fighting between each other then thinking of the long term interests of our children.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Carbon Copy 1

    All of Humanity,s Rejection of Oppression, at the Hands of many Oppressors, here on Earth will Mould (MOLD) an Impression for the REST of Eternity in the Vastness of Deep Space in Silence. When you Pray Creating your own Concept of Divinity in your Mind. When You Look into Space You See Selfrespect, Individuality, Freedom and Democracy with Harmonias Results in our Universal Ballroom. ( DANCE OF THE HOTTENTOT ).

    June 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mohannad d f

    No god just god is the answer for every question

    and god makes for islam to live for this long time and more than billion peaple who follow islam

    islam is the last message from god and have all answer for hell and haven and all thing u may ask

    June 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jose BorbĂłn

    Dude's I really think you all should get something more important to do, I'm Christian, but this is a freakin' article of Space, ok, for me space or universe, is creation of God, if you don't believe it, it's ok for me, but I actually believe religion sucks God is not a mater of religion but relationship, anyway I believe that all christian guys writtin' here should be doing something else, like prayin' or something else that includes me, so, stop it guys, this isn't freakin' first grade so stop nagging, and grow up, by the way I'm 18

    June 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      I don't actually believe religion sucks, because most believers found a style of living in their churchs, but you kind of make a good point

      June 9, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. H. B.

    I've followed the link to the ESO site, where many gorgeous photos and videos can be viewed – in PEACE from the mummery-trolls and spammers, for a change. Because they do NOT have a forum or comment board; otherwise they'd be inundated with claptrap every hour of every day.

    But it means that I can't comment, either, and I want to tell them how beautiful their images are. If THIS is the price we must pay to be free from the intrusive claptrap, it's truly pathetic. They have made comments and questions of a legitimate nature impossible, solely because of the fanatic maggots.

    By WHOSE measure does respect and tolerance for peoples' religious liberties REQUIRE that they can be abusive, where other people cannot? Religion belongs in the heart, the home and the house of worship – NOWHERE ELSE. It is only the right to have those beliefs and practice them in those three places that is intended by the gift of religious rights and liberties. Pushing themselves onto other people is NOT exercising religious rights; it is exercising abuse. As anyone who was gotten out of the tub to answer the door to a bible-thumper knows full-well.

    Our principle of religious liberties isn't clearly phrased. Let's make it be clear. It's overdue.

    Let's get some rational rules that religions and their believers must adhere to – a wee bit of accountability, with an occasional dash of consequences. Such people act as though they have more rights than people who do not have a religion – and it's true – they DO. Where is the tolerance and respect for the rights of atheists and agnostics? Aren't they exercising THEIR religious liberties by rejecting religion altogether? Or does a person have to HAVE a faith for their freedom to believe what they choose to apply to them? If that's so – and it's patently clear that it IS so – then the whole concept of religious rights and liberties is a total farce. It allows "some people to be more equal than others."

    Religious spammers should face consequences. If they do a lot of it, they should have their IP connections revoked. Spam is still spam is still spam. The fact that the content is religious does not make it above the law – or shouldn't.

    My right NOT to believe in any religion is every bit as "sacred" and in keeping with religious liberties for ALL, as the faith of these believers. In fact, the failure of our culture and laws to recognize the equality of religious rights for non-believers is discrimination. And yes, harm IS done by means of this double standard.

    I can't ask or comment at the ESO site, because the ones who HAVE all the religious rights abuse people with them. It's the only way the people at ESO can deal with these intruders

    Non-belief is every bit as valid as belief. It should have the precise same protections. We need an uprising that will codify the rights of non-believers and make them equal to those of believers; otherwise religious liberties and rights are a meaningless, and FOSTER discrimination and abuse more than they minimize them.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jackson

      did not read

      June 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    Nice photo of some stars, well done. Make a good postcard if your travelling.

    June 9, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Barry


    Are you aware that the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) presents an interesting challenge for readers and translators of Hebrew?

    The opening verse can be translated, at least, two different ways: to say that God created the universe from nothing; or, that he created the universe from the matter that already existed. Both are legitimate translations of this first verse, and scholars have been divided about what was the intended reading or rendering of this verse.

    I find this fascinating, in light of the discussion among scientists regarding whether there was a finite beginning (as in the Big Bang Theory), or whether the origins of the universe are more nebulous, obscure and infinite.

    Don’t you find this fascinating?

    June 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
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