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. CinCin

    The answer to all the questions posed here on the comments:
    Because, Science. LOL
    I really think after reading all of these comments that people have WAY too much time on their hands...

    June 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Loki

    The only difference between religion and mythology is's all just mysticism...

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

      Gee I hope you're right in your all knowing arrogance.
      The penalty if you're wrong is quite substantial.

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

      you are 100% correct. anyone who actually believes in God and what relegion represent is only deluding himself.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris you not see the irony in your statement? How about your all-knowing mindset? Are there only 2 possibilities? Either he's wrong and goes to hell forever or he's not? Can't it be that he's wrong and doesn't go to hell? Or he is right and still goes to hell? Or noone goes to hell, but we all go to Disneyland?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      I don't profess to be all knowing like your scientists Chris.
      Faith is the key.
      I just wonder why it's so important for non-believers to constantly preach that God doesn't exist, when they have such a problem with people that preach that he does.
      They are just as annoying to those of us who could really care less if you believe or don't believe.
      Preaching is preaching no matter what the contents of the sermon.

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

      The penalty for you is far worse, since you've squandered away the only life you have in hopes of an after-life that you will never see.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Daver

    "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself"
    -Carl Sagan

    June 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel

    ...........yea some kind of god made this picture possible , Serious ? The same god who kills the innocent ?

    Our sun is a third generation star , humans came really late to the party on earth .

    I don't believe some god had any intention of making anything for human pleasure .

    humanity can not possibly comprehend what it means to be alive , only believe there is something greater

    June 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BobZemko

    I can see Alpha Centari from my front porch.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. steveo

    It really bothers me that there cannot be one space article on a website without humans degrading the beauty of space with a religious debate. Personally I don't care if you think it was created by something or if it just happened by chance. Can't we all just revel in the beauty of it together?

    How silly of me to think that humans would ever enjoy something as beautiful as this without argument. Our evolution as a species slowly comes to a hault.

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

      If the religious would stop cramming "god" down our throats, there would NEVER be a problem.

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

      if the Atheists would just mind their own business and stop worrying so much about what complete strangers believe, there would be no problem.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • steveo

      You two are just proving my point for me.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 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.

    37And 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 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • AA

      You should now post the scripture where the bible says gays should be put to death. It's in Leviticus. Oooh, and next, post the scripture where Jesus says that the old law (Old Testament) is to be followed, you know, since christians like to discount the old testament with all its killing.

      I love how you people like to post all the happy garbage from the bible, but your kind always ignores the real gritty trash in it.

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

    What is it with you guys that you cannot enjoy the pictures, get a life.
    And as far as school goes is that the one 50 years ago taught most would burn up before hitting us, or the one that taught the earth was the center of the universe, or the one that taught we have only 4 dimensions???

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

      That's because religion was allowed to ruin education. Now that 's been kicked out of schools, we have a better understanding of reality.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Evolution

    @Ryan in Michigan and other Creation believers.
    Look, Evolution IS a Theory- a Scientific Theory. I do not think you comprehend what a Scientific Theory is. Scientists will NEVER say that anything is indisputable fact- if they do, its not a scientific statement. They have stopped using the word "Law". Therefore, we have the Theory of Gravity. However, I dont want you to test that theory by doing the Wiley Coyote walk off a cliff.
    Second, Evolution comes to us from a VARIETY of different disciplines... the fossil record is merely just one. There is no 'missing link" that you guys love to bring up. The other fields of science that support Evolution- Embryology (why fetuses in early stages are almost indistinguishable; why humans have GILLS in utero); Molecular Genetics (We have copies of old disused genes that are being used by the mammals we evolved from, and going further back to earlier branches)... There are other fields that also add to the theory of Evolution. However, there is not ONE field that will give any scientific, non-faith based credence to the 'theory of a Young Earth, the idea that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, or your crazy idea of dinosaurs drowning in the 'Flood".
    Let me ask you a very simple question: Your idea of the flood drowning dinosaurs.. that could explain the disappearance of the land based dinosaurs.. but what about the sea-based dinosaurs? How would a Flood drown those out? Second, are you suggesting that Noah got some sort of secret message from God telling him to avoid putting the cute little dinosaur species on the Ark with him? There were tons of dinosaur species that were SMALL...not all of them were T-rex size. Third, fossil records are dated by carbon dating and other methods. There has never been human species or even genus discovered anywhere NEAR the same level as dinosaur fossils. Ever. Where do you get the whole footprint with dinosaur remains idea? Are you saying you believe in a Fred Flintstone world?? The Flintstones are your idea of science? That was called fun and imagination. Please try not to confuse fantasy and facts.
    I could write so much more, but I gotta get back to work. Oh yea, I am a molecular geneticist.
    Try to think critically before you spout off crazed ideas that have no scientific backing,

    June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      In all of your infinite wisdom, you still can't tell the difference between fact and faith.
      God put science into our minds.
      He chose not to include proof of His existence as a test of faith.
      Once you can know the difference between the two, your true enlightenment will be complete.
      Until then, you are lost and doomed to repeat the process until you're ready for the next level.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marley


      Seems like you are claiming you have proof of what you just claim?

      You are right because .... ????

      Care to share?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. God

    I must have made these pretty pictures. Wow, I'm impressed with myself. I made this right after I made the earth round.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David

    It does not matter how the universe was created or how we got here, what matters is we are the custodians of a planet which is just a piece of micro-dust in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy it and take in its wonders.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      It's amasing how our science has shown us how unique this world is, and anything close to it is well beyond our reach, but we still insist on destroying our life boat.
      Man is a destructive parasite.
      A cancer on the Earth.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anthrofreak

    @ Reeshard "Just for the record, evolution isn't PROVEN, it's not SCIENCE (science is observable...were you there to see apes evolve into humans?)"

    The above statement demonstrates your ignorance on both the actual evidence for evolution and the process by which it happens. The archaeological and fossil records provide us with ample evidence to support evolution as a theory for biological change over time, which is still happening. Using your argument, were theists there to see god create the world? And what hard evidence can you point to since you were not present during the 6 days god created the world? Ever heard of Uniformatarianism? Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JJ

    Stop thinking so much and enjoy the ride.

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

    Another point: Humans did not evolve from 'apes'. Our closest cousins are the Chimpanzees. That has been shown by genetics as well. Unfortunately for your creation theories, our DNA, and those of all the animals living today...dont have ANY lack of genetic 'fossil' evidence. On the contrary, we have all the DNA fossils we need at hand to compare species, and compare the same genes.
    So my question to you is- Why do you believe in just the one story of Creation, when there are tons of them around across the planet? If you are going to bring one up, then I will have to bring up all the OTHER Creation stories.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Honry

      So you know a lot about DNA, do you? We share DNA with many species, including dogs. So your theories about sharing DNA meaning we "came from chimps" doesn't hold any value. Us sharing so much DNA with so many species (yes, look it up, but use real research not WikiBS) points to all species being created from one set of building blocks- made by one creator. Smartest scientists ever believed in God- they saw so much they realized it could never all just be chance chemical reactions that made everything. Highest form of pride and self-centeredness is denying creation by saying it's all just chance.

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


      Seems like you have evidence to falsify EVOLUTION.

      Well, where is it? And why haven't you received a Nobel Prize for your work yet?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      trees have dna

      June 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • duh

      apes-chimps,... poh-tay-toh, poh-tuh-toh,...

      June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Creation is a joke

      If you believe in creationism, then you are obviously anti-science. Because the basis for creationism, is that it can't be explained so therefore it is devine. And when the truth is provided, it is not accepted since it shows the whole creation theory as bunk created by men to control people and keep them afraid.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • rocco

      OMG, here we go with all these weird comments OFF TOPIC, lets comment on the telescope and space people...WOW

      June 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolution

      @ Chris Honry: Yes, we DO share DNA with dogs. Its not just building blocks, but the arrangement of genes and their relationship to each other. This is why we have a LOT in common with dogs. If you had a dog, then you would know that they suffer from the same types of diseases as we do, and get treated by the same techniques and medicines. Dogs get diabetes, like humans do, and get treated for it with insulin. Know why? Cuz its the same dang gene. We can do this because all the mammals are more closely related than the non-mammals.
      You will not be able to do that with a too different branch of the Evolutionary tree. For example, you wont be able to do the same thing with a shark, or with a bird, or with an alligator or frog.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joshua

    The Bible say, "From dust we were created, and to dust we will return". If you think about it, what we see in this photo is a collection of elemental dust which creat the nebula. I truly believe that the Bible and science can co-exist if interpreted correctly. I believe there ae more similarities than differences.

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

      The Bible has been DIRECTLY FALSIFIED – with scientific and historical evidence.

      Not that it needed to be directly falsified in the first place, since we don't require other fairy-tales to be directly falsified.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      "if interpreted correctly?" You mean... cherry pick the pieces from each side that fit your personal view the best? Ridiculous.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
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