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. fernace

    Of course theres life forms on other planets. Some of them are visiting us right here on this blog! I know what you're thinking & you're right!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. stanton

    YOU ARE LOOKING AT JUST A SMALL PART OF GOD'S GLORY!!!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      god doesn't exist. That is just natural dynamics.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      Umm...what the heck is this thingy "God" you are were referring?

      Can you logically argue what it is?

      If so, you'll be the first person in history to do so. If you can't logically argue what it is ... that means no such thing exists as you think or believe, ie. you are delusional

      June 8, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • christopher A

      Why do religious people have to ruin everything?

      June 8, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Sorry Stanton

      But God is a creation of man. Like when man was thinking the earth was the center of the universe. But Zeus created this right??

      June 8, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • erich2112x

      You're absolutely right about what you're seeing, Stanton, but that God has absolutely nothing to do with that crazy book you read.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • DArnold1112

      GOD WHO? It's science at it's most magnificent. And if there is a God, shouldn't he be worried about Darfur genocide, eathquakes, tsunami's, fires in AZ that all his "followers" are "praying" for, rather than sprinkling the cosmos with his "glory", jeez. Can't wait for E.T. 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • clays

      God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made"

      June 8, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • yournuts

      God is a myth the Universe is reality

      June 8, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Danny1991

      dont mind the ignorant people,
      anyone who knows anything about cosmic physics is certain that there was an initiator to all this, the universe has been continuously expanding after the big bang, the big bang happened in absolute nothingness A little logic is required to understand that something doesnt just happen in absolute nothingness.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • PoopGravy

      The fact of the matter is that if God does or does not exist you can't prove it either way. With this in mind the ones who are saying that God does not exist let us see the proof of that to. The poster states that this is one of Gods creations, that is fine it is an opinion. The ones retaliating saying that God does not exist you must also prove that God does not. Until you have proof that God does not exist then you are not addressing the facts, and that is you don't really know what all is out there. I for one do not know so I can not say one way or the other than there is no proof yet for or against God, until then I remain neutral.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • wes

      if god existed he would have stopped me from raping all those babies. guess what, he didn't WINNING

      June 8, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenden

      Except that something can (and does) come from nothing, all the time in fact! That's just one of the amazing properties of the universe that quantum mechanics has informed us of!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation

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

      It is illogical to say that God cannot exist. The principle of causality says that everything must have a cause EXCEPT, by definition, God. The fact that you are here prooves that there is a God. If there was ever a time that absolutely nothing existed, not even space, then how could you and I be here? The law of causality says that we couldn't, period, not a chance! Therefore, God exists, has existed from eternity past and will exist to eternity future.

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

      @PoopGavy

      In order to prove whether some thingy exists or not, you first have to be able to logically tell us what it is!

      If you can't logically tell me what it is, then NOTHING exists as you believe. This is basic logic 101.

      If your "God" is the "Jewish God of the Bible", sorry but besides logic, science and historical evidence has directly falsified it.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      So how do you know that God does not exist? How do you know that God did not create this Nebula? You dont so keep your ignorant comments to yourself... Believers and non-belevers are just the same, and what makes them the same is that they don't know anything.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Brenden, you're wrong. Matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed (i.e., by man). All quantum physics says is that a particle can appear at one location because it apparently disappeared, as far as we can tell, in another. One of my family members has his PhD in high energy physics from Harvard, has taught at Stanford, and researched at Fermi labs and at the new facility in Switzerland. You have been TRUMPED BOY!!!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Marley, you must have aced con artistry but you certaily failed logic 101 and gotten thrown out of school. You're talking about specifics while the basic law of causality is a general statement. Enough said.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenden

      @Justin

      "How do you know that X doesn't exist" is a really senseless question, that could be applied to literally anything. Can you PROVE that we are not controlled by invisible, undetectable alien lizard-folk with pointy hats living inside of our brains? Of course you can't, but the fact that you can't prove their non-existence does absolutely nothing to lend credit to their existence.

      The burden of proof rests firmly in the hands that make a positive claim (This thing exists, or this thing caused this other thing), not the other way around,

      June 8, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • PoopGravy

      @Marley,
      When did I say anything about my God? I didn't, so if you would refer to Jason's and Jacks post just below yours, I will refrain from repeating anything, lesson 101.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • PoopGravy

      Also on my last post that was supposed to be Justin not Jason sorry about the mistake.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenden

      @Jack

      Odd, I don't feel "trumped"

      Quantum physics says a whole lot, and certainly more than what you just claimed. Perhaps your "family member" should be on here, rather than you speaking (poorly) on his/her behalf.

      While yes, it is perhaps an oversimplification to say that "something can come from nothing," the point of what Hawking Radiation informs us of is that "nothing" likely doesn't exist at all. Even "before the big bang" (though such a concept doesn't make any real sense) there existed "stuff" in the universe.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • MSmith

      A quantum singularity is the beginning of our universe based on the consensus of scientific thought. Logic would lead one to the conclusion that space, time and matter does not simply exist but was created.

      For me, I do not have enough faith to draw the illogical conclusion that the universe is some type of absolute that created itself. Of course, there are many out there that have decided they have risen above us that possess the intellect to believe on faith alone and to also give recognition to the collective wisdom and experience of those that proceeded us for thousands of years. No God, no purpose, no moral code is certainly a convenient thought as one then only has to rely on "me" and can satiate the ever-increasing trend towards the new-age religion historically referred to as narcissism.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • MSmith

      A quantum singularity is the beginning of our universe based on the consensus of scientific thought. Logic would lead one to the conclusion that space, time and matter does not simply exist but was created.

      For me, I do not have enough faith to draw the illogical conclusion that the universe is something that created itself. Of course, there are many out there that have decided they have risen above us that possess the intellect to believe on faith alone and to also give recognition to the collective wisdom and experience of those that proceeded us for thousands of years. No God, no purpose, no moral code is certainly a convenient thought as one then only has to rely on "me" and can satiate the ever-increasing trend towards the new-age religion historically referred to as narcissism.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • r2y2

      If it was possible to have a reverse telescope to zoom out on the whole universe as a opposed to zooming in on a tiny spec of it, would we then see God playing with some marbles with one of the marbles being our universe.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      To Brenden

      Well maybe there is alien lizard-folk controlling our brains. Maybe God created them as well. I just think its funny how people try to prove that God does not exist and on the other hand other people try to prove that he does. And to say that its a senseless question to say "How do you know that x does not exist" is just senseless. So i will give you my fact, proof, evidence and truth. You dont know anything. Just as I dont know anything.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      @Jack

      Sorry Jack. The causality argument FAILS miserably on many fronts. Google is your friend.

      Do you even understand what logic is? The laws of logical thought are the preconditions for existence. If your thoughts do not satisfy these laws, ie. they are illogical, then they do not exist. Again, Google is your friend.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      funny how we cant just appreciated an article about the cosmos without people getting into God/atheist-bashing fest. Some people will call it God some will call it science. But one thing we all understand in science is that the cosmos is still a mystery. For one to call out a reglious believer as an idiot for believing God created it, is hyprocrital. Science will admit they dont know either... no one knows anything. Science nor religion... cant we just enjoy the damn idea of being able to see it better than before without condemning each other. If believers says it was God..so what..why respond with such hate..why respond at all. just like how we marvel at the beauty of a perhaps purposeless universe, they marvel at a belief that brings purpose to universe to them... who care waht they believe... they;re not posting comments to condemn atheists.. this isnt a church, its just people posting their views on the article..no need to trashed them about their views.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ILL WILL

      I whole heartedly agree with what M. Smith said on this one. Very thoughtful post.

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

      MSMITH is right on. This is the exact agenda and it is clearly progressing. So sad. People rather have no faith in something good than to really research and answer their own questions. People will believe in demons before they believe in angels. =[

      June 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. curtegg

    Amazing shots, you can see so much structure in the nebulae. This is only the first of several VST being built. The Jupiter shot was equivalent to Voyager around 40 days away from encounter. Amazing what you can do with adaptive optics. Astronomy is in for a great revival.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. erika

    is cute

    June 8, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. seanb

    NO, I AM LOOKING AT A PICTURE OF THE OMEGA NEBULA!!!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeremy

    What's amazing is that this only represents a small portion of the entire universe. It's a beautiful picture.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. gottahandittohim

    Continuously amazed at the overwhelming # of stars in the universe.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. LRoy

    Trekkies-this is better than anything that Star Trek used. I love the multi-colors. And to think there's more out there. When life is discovered, let me know.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. MennoKnight

    Brought to you by the hand of The Creator

    Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors.
    Sir Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist to ever live.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Brought to you by the wonder of the natural, non-magic, universe.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Sorry MennoKnight

      The creator? How small minded of you to think that a deity created by man could have created something, anything. Depend on science, might educate you a little.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • MennoKnight

      The Big Bang Theory teaches that approximately 13 billion years ago the universe came from a quantum singularity. Fancy word for nothing. Since matter cannot be created or destroyed just changed, where did it all come from?

      Another question, why is the universe so finely tuned to enable life to exist? There are over 20 different laws of physics that you change any one by the factor of one and complex life cannot exist.
      There are at least another 60 variables of astronomy that if any one is changed or taken away and complex life cannot exist.
      To see what these varibles are go to good creation web sights like Reason to Believe by Hugh Ross (http://www.reasons.org/)
      I became a believer in the Creator because of astronomy and the other sciences. When you add up all the "coincides" they suddenly don't seem like coincidence. There is design and purpose to the universe. It is not random chance that we are talking about this.
      Please respond in a civilized manner and without name calling.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • MennoKnight

      Have you ever noticed that when people disagree with you they call you names? What does that say about their argument? Maybe that it is weak?

      June 8, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Come on, people! Let's stop acting like children here. Whether you believe such beauty as this nebula was created by a deity or not, who cares? As long as we appreciate the wonders that science is showing us via this telescope, can't we agree that it is awesome, and each allow the other to believe or not as they see fit? I am an atheist, but I don't think my opinion on the subject of creation is the end-all and be-all of opinions. Lighten up, people, and just enjoy the show!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      @Mennonite

      You argument is basically the VANITY ARGUMENT: oh, some thingy "God" created this place for us humans!

      If your Judaic or Christian, it is: oh, some thingy "God" created this place for Jewish people!

      VANITY. SELF-CENTERED. IGNORANCE.

      The reason you and I are here today – as biological beings – is because the space-time portion of existence that we live in had to be what it was.

      If it wasn't, we would not be here as biological beings, correct?

      If this space-time portion of existence was not habitable to conscious intelligent beings like human beings, would there ever be any way of knowing anything exists at all?

      Imagine a person winning the lottery. Was it just random coincidence, or some divine plan where everything fell into place just right for that person to win?

      Think critically and hard about what I've shared with you, and you may be able to set yourself free of your VANITY and IGNORANCE.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • MennoKnight

      Marley,
      Thank you for your even handed post. My answers to you post:
      You argued that it is vanity, self-centered, and ignorant to say that the universe was created for just us. To which I answer: You are absolutely correct!
      Christianity does not teach that the universe was created for man. It was created for God. Christianity does not teach that the universe resolves around humans. It teaches that it does NOT revolve around humans.
      Now I understand why you think this. Historically the Roman Catholic Church during the dark ages did actually teach this. But this was not a Christian teaching, but rather a Greek philosophy from Socrates.
      Contrary to what many people think it is not the Bible that teaches that the world was flat, but rather on stain of Greek philosophy.
      It was this and many more reasons why there was Reformation. I am a Mennonite, part of the Radical Reformation. We strive to be biblical by teaching what was intend by the original author to taken literally or figuratively. Don't confuse what one Pope said 500 years ago for what the rest of Christians hold to today. And the Pope does not speak for me.

      Remember all the early great scientists were Christians. Copernicus was a Christian. Galileo was Christian. Newton was a Christian. And yes, Darwin too was a Christian (he was Anglican clergy) They held to biblical ideals and the believe that science pointed towards God as creator.
      In my church it is regularly taught that the world was not created for you or me. It was created for God. We get the benefit of that incredible creation. I could quote a dozen different passages from scripture that backs up this belief, but I trust the Power of Google can do that for you as well.
      ps the Roman Catholic Church isn't like that anymore either, they had a Counter Reformation and Vatican II.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anna

    Stanton, I share your thoughts on this. Thanks for that comment.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Wish I could go there

    And get away from all the religious nutjobs here.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      More than 90% of the world's human population believes in god in one form or another. Deal with it.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Denizen Kate

      More than 90% of the world's human population believes in god in one form or another. Deal with it.'
      but the fact that its belief in different dieties proves that some must be nutjobs.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. palintwit

    That photo looks like someone vomiting in slow motion. But then again I'm a Palin. What do I know...

    June 8, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. mecatfish

    Any sign of Nibiru yet?

    June 8, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. LouAz

    For those that insist that this is some god(s) work, it is clearly obvious that the little small minded pi$$ant god of the earth that you keep talking about did not create all of this.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    What you are looking at is the Mind of God.......we are all part of it. If you want to believe it or not that's up to you. Lizard brain people keeping spouting THERE is no GOD but it's right in front of you but people are too worried about their stupid ipods or lindsey lohan to grasp it.

    The proof exists before your eyes.

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