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. Mike

    We are part lizard people created by reptilian Gods.

    Look it up fool.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. palintwit

    It must be absolute hell to wake up every morning and realize you're a Palin.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Can you imagine what kind of life her followers lead?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Norm, I shudder to think.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sharona

    Wow losers, way to ruin a great article about the universe! Why can't Americans discuss the AMAZING wonders of space without dragging their foolish 2,000 year old beliefs about a supernatural all-seeing imaginary God into it? Are you so scared of the unknown, the idea that something incredible happened THAT WE CANNOT EXPLAIN that you insist on pretending that you have all the answers & that God did it all? HOW PATHETIC! Admit you don't know, I don't know, nobody knows!!! That's why we're in space, searching for answers and meaning. THE ANSWERS ARE NOT IN A STUPID BOOK WRITTEN THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO BY PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT THE EARTH WAS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. They didn't know and they were scared, so they wrote down what they thought was a plausible explanation. ITS NOT PLAUSIBLE ANYMORE! WAKE UP TO YOUR IGNORANCE!!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Ma ma ma myyyy Sharona....
      Chill out.
      No one cares if you don't believe in God, so at least do us the same courtesy and mind your own busines.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Norm, which God do you believe in btw? There are so many. Many believe in a God called Jesus who created himself and the universe and begged forgiveness to himself for things nobody did because he had to kill himself even though he did not really know why, then let himself die for 3 days so that he could resurrect like the Phoenix I guess. Some also believe in a similar God by the same name and place except that that God came to Americas to kill all dark Indians living there because the Jews killed him in Israel and he had to avenge himself, so that they all could see how all-loving he was. Some may wonder how could anybody believe something so ridiculous but really, they don't understand that beliefs have to make sense for people to accept them. You just have to pound them at an early age enough and with enough conviction for anybody to accept absolutely anything. If you can think it, somebody can believe it. Thus is the power of religion.

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

    Seriously, dude, put the bong down for a while, okay?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      CNN censors strike again. This was originally a reply to another post that has since been deleted.

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

      @Denizen Kate: Do you seriously think someone at CNN is just sitting there all day looking for things on the blogs he/she disagrees with so he/she can delete them in some crazy scheme to keep an agenda? Good God.

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

      @real, no I don't. Someone had a very rambling and incoherent rant to which I entered a smart-alec reply, then found that the incoherent rant had been deleted and my reply was left dangling. God had nothing to do with it.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew

    In all of this immense or infinite beauty, are we really the only ones? It would be too absurd to waste all this vastness with our kind. We such miserable creatures most of the time.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nofoldems

    Interesting all such stories about scientific discoveries bring out religious and political comments. Where are all the astro-nerds?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      I'm right here! Space cadet astro-nerd, reporting for duty! What are your instructions?

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

      God is in all things.
      Why are you so surprised?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Radical Simplicity

    Under the coming dictatorship of the Republikkklan Tea Party, all such efforts will be eliminated as wasteful government spending.

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

      Yet another commenter who lacks reading comprehension skills. Which part of 15-nation European Southern Observatory did you not understand? The U.S. is not funding this telescope.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Real

    You people turning this into a God debate need to seriously take a step back and realize just how clueless you really are in the grand scheme of things.

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

      Amen to that!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. City Buddha

    Amazing how we get side tracked. My God is real not yours. As for punctuation, I find the more educated one is the least respect one has for language – but that is my subjective opinion.

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

      Since the only way to pass on knowledge is through language, faulty language means faulty knowledge. Your comment makes no sense.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kieran Murphy

    Hey guys, the article did not mention god or anti-god stuff. Lets talk about the article instead, that might be cool. I might be asking too much though.

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

      I'm thinking God instructed you to post that comment.

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

      I so appreciate your comment. Why is it that people always turn this into a God debate? If you don't believe in Him, why do you talk about him everyday? Why do you need to spew hatred at others? That doesn't make much sense. This is great article about the beautiful universe that we live in. I believe God created it, but you not believing that does not hurt or bother me. That's your business.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Salvadore

    The Cosmo are grand, and the senses of human are gradual senseless minds.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Al

    33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

    34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.

    35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

    36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.

    37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

    38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

    39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      I guess you had a point, but it got lost in all the biblical b.s.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marley

    The VANITY ARGUMENT: oh, some thingy "God" created this place for us humans!

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


    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 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay


      June 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobZemko

      That is some AWESOME weed you are smokin'!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy Burgess

      My friend, saying that we emerged from such an incredibly fine-tuned universe because it's only in such a universe that life could airse is completely evading the question. In no way is that a refutation of God's awesome hand in the formation of the universe.

      It is likely that you are reiterating the words of Richard Dawkins and others who profess to the multiverse hypothesis. The problem is, the idea is completely without supporting evidence.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • IAMGOD1014

      You have no idea what youre talking about you whack job. Youre talking about religion and science together which doesnt make sense.
      "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".
      Stop acting like you know what youre talking about!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • AA


      To the guy that said atheists are religious... uh, what? We believe? In what? We DON'T believe, therefore making us faithless and without religious boundaries. We simply work hard to get where we want to in life and don't rely on some guy in the clouds. Ever notice that most people who go to church are broke? It's because they don't work. They think some god is going to hand everything to them. Sorry. No god. No handouts. WORK FOR A LIVING.

      If you don't believe, you don't need faith. There's a quote for you.

      Want another?

      Christians do good things because they think it'll get them into heaven.

      Atheists do good things because they're nice.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      Try to imagine that there are people reading this that "do" believe in God and people that "don't" believe in God.
      Then try to imagine how annoying you and others like you are to those people.
      Most of us could care less if you do or don't believe in God.
      So how about affording us the same courtesy and take your preaching elsewhere.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      @ Marley – What's ironic is that under your "vanity" argument, you are the most vain of all. You basically believe we created ourselves for our own benefit. You can't get more vain than that.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Holy Crap!! it's just a nice picture from a telescope. No need to scare everyone. Sheesh!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      So instead of believing something you don't think can be proven, you believe something you KNOW can't be proven. It's a religion all in itself. "We're not going to believe what we can't see. So we'll make up something else we can't see to believe in."

      June 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      This post is for those who believe that some thingy that they label "God" purposely created everything in existence for human beings, more specifically for Jewish and Arab people if you are Judaic, Christian, or Muslim.

      It's absurd. It's called VANITY and IGNORANCE.

      It's funny how theists argue against the propositions and theories put forth by scientists like Hawkins, saying they have no DIRECT evidence.

      But what they have is a logical proposition or theory that is supported by mathematics and other scientific theory.

      Theists, more specially Christians, have ZERO logical arguments to even support their claims! It is especially bad if you claim your "God" is the "Jewish God" of the Bible, because that "God" has been FALSIFIED with direct evidence.

      If your "God" is the "Jewish God" of the Bible, and you want to claim that this universe was created purposely and specifically for the sole enjoyment of Jewish people, well, if you have no DIRECT evidence, then where is your logical argument for it?

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

      Remember basic logic 101:

      You can not prove the existence or non-existence of a THINGY that you cannot logically define.

      If you cannot logically define (argue) what it is, then no such THINGY exists as you claim (believe).

      If in the future, some being decides to reveal itself as the mastermind behind existence, that does not mean you were right in your claim! Because you never made a claim in the first place!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willy

      God made it, a really big cosmic IED made it, a little kid with a Mack computer made it. The article didn't say. Maybe it doesn't really exist. But it's perty!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thruth

      I'm so glad to see that there are some people on this planet who claim to be a master of wisdom, knowledge and logic like you. My faith is now in your hands 😛

      June 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |


    June 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Beritebak

      It's never too late to go to school, boy.

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

      Weird...In none of these picture is there any guy with a white beard or are there any pearly gates. Seam science has proven something...

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

      Amasing how you will believe some scientist that tells you about a "discovery" he "thinks" he made of something that can't be seen or even proven, but you have such trouble with the whole God concept.
      Seems like a chararcter flaw.
      If there was a God, you couldn't lead the sinful life you do, so denial is just more fun.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'If there was a God, you couldn't lead the sinful life you do, so denial is just more fun.'
      I love this idea you have that if you are atheist you are sinful. Too funny.
      By the way, we dont deny he exists, we know he doesnt exist, big difference.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. copanut

    Jack said:
    "It is illogical to say that God cannot exist. The principle of causality says that everything must have a cause EXCEPT, by definition, God."

    Well, that sounds impressive, "the principle of causality". How convenient that you provide a definition which excludes "God", whatever that is. You have produced a totally arbitrary, self-serving, and circular definition, which is both useless and pointless. It is less logical to assume an infinitely complex source that had no beginning (God) than an infinitely simple source that had no beginning, or even better, an infinity of existence that (like a sphere) has no specific beginning or ending point, but rather is infinitely continuous in all directions).

    In any case, there is no reason to think any god that might exist has even the remotest resemblance to Yahweh/Allah/Jesus, which most likely is what you really believe. Believing in a generic deistic god as a disinterested prime mover is all well and good but not a very interesting dogma. Believing in Yahweh/Jesus/Allah is interesting but an absurdity for anyone who chooses to activate their brain cells.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      you are wrong.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      The "all knowing" Chris.....

      June 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angeleyes

      You are very wrong. If you were to use your brain to its full potential you would know that not only is there a God but that there are also multiple dimensions and vortex in this world. We are not simply human beings...we have souls: an inner consciousness. Some people are born with the exceptional abilities and some learn to use their brains to full potential later in life. Sadly, most people born with gifts use them for negative and selfish doings. If you do not believe in God, do you not believe in Satan or evil? And just to put it out there, I do believe in God but REJECT religion completely. I have never declared myself as a particular religion and will not. I was an atheist until not 2 long ago because I have always been a scientific person and rejected things without proof. Sadly, most of our science is being used for evil and is manipulated. If you use your brain to the capacity that you state, you will learn to not just believe what you read or see, regardless of its scientific context and great marketing job. There are mainstream scientists who get paid tons to feed people garbage in the name of science.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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