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. Bogus

    Such a magnificent universe. If we could ever some day travel the stars..........

    June 8, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      That would be awesome, wouldn't it?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lietuva

    I think we feel a remarkable beauty and awe for the mechanics of the universe. Whether we live within a Universe or a Multiverse setting it's breathtaking – and our infant level to begin to scratch our understand of how 'it all works' makes it all the more captivating. We are merely observers attempting to pull aside a great curtain of what really is there, and here. We seem to see only a minor glimmer of what its all about. The way our discoveries redefined what we thought we knew as fact nearly every decade, I wonder how much we think we know now will again change in another score or so years.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bogus

    Does anyone know how do these pictures compare with those of Hubble?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kami

      Far better quality...At least to those who know what they are looking for. The camera they used as more mega pixels the then ancient technology on the Hubble. We can zoom in and see images a ton more clearly! 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    We are just marbles to Aliens. MIB 4 Life.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sharona

    So where are all of these great pics? I'd love to see!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lefthandside

    I suspect, in ancient time when man saw lightning he would think of god. That is because he didn't understand lightning. Today we look at this awesome picture and we tend to also think about god. That is because we still don't understand what we are seeing.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DumbAtheist

    Atheists reject all science that gets in the way of their religion.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      "Religious individuals reject all science that gets in the way of their religion." There you go. Fixed it for you. First, I thought you spelled christians wrong. Then, I remembered, this is universal, and you weren't simply mispelling Christians by starting it with "ath."

      June 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Thats ok, you reject any science that gets in the way of the bible so i guess that makes us even.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      I don’t . I respect and appreciate mathematics and the sciences, including evolution; and, my appreciation of these matters does not hinder or contradict my faith in God, or my appreciation for the Bible.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. keith

    God’s existence can’t be proved or disproved. So scientifically speaking, how can either side declare the "high ground"? Many things in science have not been proved. So what’s the difference between God and "dark matter"?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      Your question equates to "Grass is green. A John Deere farm tractor is green. So what's the difference between grass and a John Deere farm tractor?"
      The fact that two things share a single trait does not make them in any way equivalent. The fact that you would ask the question makes me honestly doubt you have the ability to think deeply enough that you can draw any meaningful conclusions on the subject.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gethetruth

    Clearly one of mankind's great achievements.... to see beyond our range of natural vision. What is amazing about the vastness of space and size of cosmic bodies and expanse of gases is the that all this exists for no good reason or purpose. Of course, some timid humans will assign good reason to it, who knows God's Plans? No matter what.....if we find life on other plants or we are visited by aliens, that kill us or befriend us, timid people will still believe in God and his creation. Even if the aliens told us that we are stupid to believe in God. Those who have been brain washed into believing in God simply cannot be changed ... it just gets into their psyche and I can only feel sorry for them. I feel sorry because, as an evolutionary biologist and an atheist, the universe and life is to me is more amazing. The universe itself is nothing but a lot of rock and gas which is to be gazed up ! But life on this Planet and that which surely exists in other suitable planets is mind boggling. The answers to how appears is the most intriguing and remains unresolved. The mechanism that drives evolution has also not be fully understood, in this regard, Darwinian theories are all wrong and Lamarck's theory is increasing gaining ground. A scientific revolution in being prevented by Darwinians who continue to be in denial. Recent genetic engineering studies show that somatic/body cell DNA can transferred to reproductive cells, a process denied by Darwinians based on Weissman's Barrier in embryonic development. In the final analysis, everything is beautiful to both the God Believers and Atheists/Scientists. Just as science is not a religion, atheism

    June 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB Cal

      What if the aliens said you were stupid not to believe in God?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      @JB What happens when they roll over laughing ? Nothing, religious people will continue on with their faith....hence the word faith is "Belief without proof", the only thing religious people need for "proof" is group-think mentality of everyone saying they must be right.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kieran Murphy

      Why are you bringing religion into my science?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • gotthetruth

      I feel sorry that you are so blind to the truths that are obvious to me

      June 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      @JB Cal: Then I would think the aliens were rather foolish.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kami

      Well, too bad you don't believe in Hell....Because it believes in YOU!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hayden71

      "Those who have been brain washed into believing in God simply cannot be changed ... it just gets into their psyche and I can only feel sorry for them."

      Gethetruth...Hey don't feel sorry for me.

      I'm glad my brain has been "washed" from all of the evolutionary garbage and immorality we are being force fed from secular professors and the media.

      I've come from where you are in your thinking, and I can truly say I'm thankful for having my brain "washed" from the junk that kids are being exposed to today.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LOL

    Sweet I got a new desktop background. 😀

    June 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Marley

    In life, if some one is lying, we call them out.

    A liar is someone who has no evidence or even any logical arguments to backup their claims but continues to spread it like it is the "truth".

    There exists logical arguments that debunk your claims. There exists scientific and historical evidence that directly falsify your claims.

    In life, if you allow liars to run freely, it can lead to harmful and evil situations. Think Hitler.

    Logical, freedom-loving, and good people must stand up and fight back against liars.

    Humanity and our existence requires that we stand up and fight back.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reeshard

      @ Marley:

      Not sure what side of the argument you're on here. But equating those who spread ideas with Hitler. perhaps a bit extreme? It has nothing to do with "science vs. religion" it has everything to do with presuppositions. I believe in creation. Just for the record, evolution isn't PROVEN, it's not SCIENCE (science is observable...were you there to see apes evolve into humans?) Evolution, that defys the 2nd law of thermodynamics and bases the majority of its ideas on a lacking fossil record to come to it's conclusions takes more faith than I have. Worldview determines how both a creationist and evolutionist would look at the same fossil. Same evidence, totally different conclusions.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      Reeshard is exactly right. Evidence for the Evolutionary process is sorely lacking. The fossil record shows no evidence for any transitional species (Archaeopteryx was its' own species, and nearly ever "Missing Link" between humans and apes has been proven a disfigured human or a hoax), there's evidence of dinosaurs and humans living in the same time period, such as footprints of both in the same fossil layer, and the fossil layer itself can easily be explained by the process of gravity. After the Great Flood, the heaviest animals (dinosaurs) sank first. If you look at the layers below dinosaurs, such as trilobytes, they were already existing on the bottom of the ocean, and thus would be buried underneath the dinosaurs.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loki

      none of that is even remotely true....

      June 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      All life is a transitional lifeform. Human beings will not look the same in a million years because we are evolving at this very second. You are looking for evidence that doesn't exist because that is not how evolution works. Evolution is a slow process, taking millions and even billions of years to do it's work.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      @Reeshard

      Nothing can be proven to be ABSOLUTE.

      Biological evolution is as true as any other accepted scientific theory – just like Einstein's theory of gravity. It is the unifying theory of biology.

      You realize that there is proof of apes evolving to be human-like right?

      Google: Ambam the Walking Ape.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Please read a biology book. Evolution has nothing to do with the second law of thermodynamics. You have been told incorrect information. We can tell that humans and apes share a common ancestor through the fossil record but more importantly, through DNA. All life on this planet shares the same instruction book. We didn't evolve from apes, we simply share a common ancestor. Please read up on this subject before you comment on it. Also, Evolution has nothing to do with the Cosmos. Evolution is biology.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • IAMGOD1014

      Evolution is not science?? What are you smoking? And yes Darwin, maybe you forgot about him, he published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book 'On the Origin of Species' and to add on to that, natural selection???

      June 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • UMeat

      @Reeshard – there is plenty of observational evidence of evolution, whereas there is no credible scientific evidence for creationism, god, intelligent design etc. That is made-up to fit religious dogma.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howie

      Clearly you never bothered to get your own education. You are just spouting off the factually incorrect talking points of the ignorant religious right. Evolution has been proven, idiot! It is fully observable, and has been observed. The fossil record is not required to be complete in order to prove the validity of evolution, however what portions of it we have uncovered all support the hypothesis. No, we haven't figured out every detail about how it works, but the fact that it does happen and has been happening is indisputable to anyone with a brain. The second law of thermodynamics doesn't even come into the conversation, and that reference alone is enough to prove that you have no idea what you are talking about.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      @Howie – You do realize that, among all these "uneducated, ignorant, brainless" religious people include Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilea, Nicholas Copernicus, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Werner von Braun, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Edison, and many others. The reason they believed in God? Because they were educated, aware, and of sound mind to see that the design of the universe points toward a Creator, just as a painting has a painter, a sculpture a sculptor, a book an author, and a movie a director. Things don't make themselves – there has to be a designer.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • papaplump

      How does evolution defy the thermodynamic rule that no process can have 100% efficiency?

      June 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • fimeilleur

      @Reeshard.
      What are the other two laws of thermal dynamics? Don't bother looking it up now... because I know you don't understand the 2nd law anyways. The 2nd law only applies IN A CLOSED SYSTEM. The earth is NOT a closed system because we get energy from the SUN...

      Evolution not proven? Not by any standard that YOU attribute, but certainly supported by almost EVERY field of scientific research. Were you there to observe the birth of your grandfather from your great-grandmother? but you accept that this happened. Every time we identify a transitional fossil, you will always point out that we've created two more gaps in the fossil record... You hold science to a higher standard of evidence than you hold your own bible... yet science is closer to achieving the standard than you will ever be.

      June 9, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      Perhaps you should get off of the internet and back in the kitchen.

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

    I am god...and I would like all of you to shut up. Also – I prefer my name to not be capitalized...and its pronounced Gawd.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Futon Torpedo

      LOL!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      I dare any religious person to prove stephan is not Gawd. Btw he only uses his powers in front of believers and he is invisble, NOW PROVE ME WRONG!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      What happens if we all just think you're an idiot and ignore you?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      We are all God. The Universe is One.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bh

      Some genius named Stephen said, 'I am god..blah blah blah'. An even more intelligent person said, 'I dare any religious person to prove that Stephen is not God.' Really? You say that as if that's not a possible task. The entire idea of the Christian God...is that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and infinite. How easy would it be to prove that Stephen is not infinite by going to his birth records and showing when he started to exist? Or, to ask him to answer a question that someone has without 1) knowing in advance what that question was or 2) answering a complex question that Stephen cannot answer. It can be just about any question. Ask him to recite Pi to the 10000th digit. Better yet, ask Stephen where the universe came from, scientifically, empirically.
      Sadly, whoever said it, I think Michael, is under the impression that his argument, 'prove that Stephen is not god' is a really good argument against God's existence. Foolish atheist. You've been reading too much Infidels or Dawkins.

      Dear atheist: Please do better. You mock Christians for their ignorance and pseudo-science yet present the same. Well done.

      FYI: I'm relatively sure, in case you did not know this already, that the color to these pictures are NOT the actual colors but are added in. Nice eh?

      cnncommentator at hotmail com if you wish to try to be intelligent in discussion

      June 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      But bh, surely Stephan doesnt need to perform those miracles for you, you just need to have faith. God doesnt jump at your beck and call so how dare you ask him to perform such tasks just to prove himself to you.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dark Helmet

      BH, if those questions you posed are the litmus test, then bring your gawd here to answer them for us and prove he/she/it is real.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DumbAtheist

    Atheist are the most religious people in existence. Thy ignore any science that gets in the way of their religion. I actually have read many times on different CNN post Atheist who say if you can't see it, then it doesn't exist. It's just the words of man. How dumb can you be and still breathe? Well, I have my faith and they have theirs.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gethetruth

      All scientists are not atheists. But all Atheists are scientists and almost all evolutionary biologists are atheists. There are evolutionary biologists who are religious, this is because for some their religious up bring grips them and fear rules them. It requires a strong mind to be an atheists, especially , if you have been brain washed in childhood. That is why those in communists countries where religious brain washing has not taken place, they have no concept of God and get on fine with their lives. What is important is a rational or ethical up bringing. In the past this has come from moral or religious teachings. Its time to move to a new world order of ethics.

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

      What are you rambling on about...?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Atheists are constantly asking for proof of God.
      It seems they're actually quite desperate for Him to exist.
      Where as the rest of us that do believe in God, can only pray for them to stop being so arrogant and childish.
      Maybe God just doesn't feel they are worthy of His love.
      No one knows.....
      It's so sad...

      June 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5thApe

      At least the first part of your handle was spot on....

      June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • what-the-hell?

      you my friend, are a moron.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Now, what really scares me is when all these stars and galaxies will fall from the sky on this flat earth 2000 years ago.... Oh... I guess that did not happen. Jesus is no better that Harold Camping after all... Or Harold Camping is no better than Jesus, don't know which one is right anymore.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      If you are a Jewish-wannabe: Besides logic, there are scientific and historical evidence that directly falsify your "Jewish God" of the Bible.

      The term "Atheist" is just a label as an anti to the term "Theists".

      Theists have a HIGH BELIEF in the existence of ILLOGICAL THINGS.

      So the opposite is of course, a person who has a LACK of BELIEF in ILLOGICAL THINGS – which BY DEFINITION is called an "Atheist".

      But as you can tell, the more correct terminology is this:

      THEIST = illogical person
      ATHEIST = logical person

      June 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Atheism is a religion? FALSE. Atheism is simply a lack of belief. Atheists do not pray to or worship any deity. The only "faith" that is involved is the acceptance of evidence that has been subjected to the scientific method. The scientific method takes ideas and tests them until they fail. Those that don't fail – gravity for instance – are considered to have passed the test and are regarded as scientific fact until new information is discovered that might change the facts. In that case, the scientific method is applied again and theories are altered if necessary. Atheism is merely skepticism in anything that isn't backed up by verifiable facts. It is an exercise in reason.

      What makes this different from faith of the religious kind is that any scientific theory is testable and is not accepted until it passes the test. Even after that, it can still be altered in the face of new evidence. Faith, God, Allah, et al are not testable. There is no way at all to take, for example, the teachings of the Bible or the Koran and set up an experiment with proper controls to see what holds up to scrutiny. Religious teachings are accepted merely on the say so of the teacher(s) one happens to encounter rather than any kind of verifiable evidence. Furthermore, they are interchangeable – a person raised as a Christian in one society is likely to have been raised as a Muslim, Buddhist, etc if they were born somewhere else. In the end, it's not much different than sports: My team (Jesus) is better than your team (Allah) because that's how I was raised and that's what the marketing team says! The difference is that most people are able to distinguish between their favorite sports team and reality.

      Atheists aren't perfect either, but to say they are a religious group is simply false. The only thing uniting them as a group is the use of reason, skepticism and the acceptance of human fallibility. In short, atheists don't claim to know, they simply claim that others don't know unless they have verifiable proof. What's wrong with that?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. OldGoat

    Are you feeling okay? Should I call emergency services for you?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gethetruth

    Clearly one of mankind's great achievements.... to see beyond our range of natural vision. What is amazing about the vastness of space and size of cosmic bodies and expanse of gases is the that all this exists for no good reason or purpose. Of course, some timid humans will assign good reason to it, who knows God's Plans? No matter what.....if we find life on other plants or we are visited by aliens, that kill us or befriend us, timid people will still believe in God and his creation. Even if the aliens told us that we are stupid to believe in God. Those who have been brain washed into believing in God simply cannot be changed ... it just gets into their psyche and I can only feel sorry for them. I feel sorry because, as an evolutionary biologist and an atheist, the universe and life is to me is more amazing. The universe itself is nothing but a lot of rock and gas which is to be gazed up ! But life on this Planet and that which surely exists in other suitable planets is mind boggling. The answers to how appears is the most intriguing and remains unresolved. The mechanism that drives evolution has also not be fully understood, in this regard, Darwinian theories are all wrong and Lamarck's theory is increasing gaining ground. A scientific revolution in being prevented by Darwinians who continue to be in denial. Recent genetic engineering studies show that somatic/body cell DNA can transferred to reproductive cells, a process denied by Darwinians based on Weissman's Barrier in embryonic development. In the final analysis, everything is beautiful to both the God Believers and Atheists/Scientists. Just as science is not a religion, atheism is not a religion, neither is communism or socialism. An atheist is a scientist and scientists are atheists. There are of course a number of physicists and chemists who may be religious. To be clear, Atheists are evolutionary (biological) scientist.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharona

      I agree with most of what you've said. Ill have to check out this Lamarck's theory, I've never heard of it but I'm very interested in learning new ideas. You're right about it being in some peoples psyche, it REALLY bothers me though, I want to shake them and say "Don't you see how foolish religion is!" But they believe in the whole rapture, Heaven, Hell, and that this is all somehow just a test for the afterlife. How can people be SO STUPID? If they could just see for a second how ludicrous it all is. Believe a 2,000 year old book written by people who thought the Earth was flat, ridiculous. & I'm not saying we have all the answers, 2,000 from now people may look back at us and laugh about our current scientific beliefs, but at least we're moving forward and not stuck believing in saints and Jesus' "magic".

      June 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5thApe

      "Darwinian theories are all wrong."

      Fail.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      An evolutionary biologist that rejects evolution and instead believes in Larmark's theory, a theory that has been discredited for well over 100 years? You are a liar my friend.

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