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. wikiIeaks

    I really enjoy science. It further backs up my belief in God. Like how nobody believed certain civilizations existed that were mentioned in the bible because there was no "evidence". Then... Voi LA!!!! They discover theses civilizations. Or how thousands of years ago, the bible said the earth was round. Then, despite everyone on earth thinking it was flat, BANG!!!! they see it's round, and not supported by four elephants standing on a turtles back. (The bible said it was hanging on nothing.)

    June 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      theses= these

      June 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      Julian Assange called. He said you are damaging his reputation. He is claiming copyright violation.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      care to show, exactly, where the bible claims the earth to be round? And not in a version edited since that scientific proof.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      Isaiah 40:22

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

      I believe Julian has bigger fish to fry at the moment.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      and FYI the dead sea scrolls were written almost 2000 years ago. Earliest known copies of the Book of Isaiah. So I think that can reasonably be said to be before the scientific discoveries.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • The rewritten bible

      The bible has ben rewritten so many times by people in power that the word is no longer from the original writers. So basically you believe a 2000 year old book versus science? Just as the islamist believe certain hand picked items out of the Quran. Both make you turn away from reality.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      "22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
      and its people are like grasshoppers.
      He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
      and spreads them out like a tent to live in. "

      There is Isaiah 40:22. Clearly a round disc (flat) with the heavens arching over it. You cannot put a canopy over a sphere. Also how one can be above a sphere makes absolutely no sense. Finally from a vantage point above a sphere the inhabitants thereof would not be spread out like grasshoppers, half would be on the other side.

      Isaiah is imagine what was a very common type of cosmology, that of a disc with the sky as a dome. Nevermind Isaiah was a prophet and was writing a highly allegorical and poetic text. This isn't about the shape of the universe but about how the activity of humans is incomparably small to that of God.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • greg

      the bible also implies the sun revolves around the earth. and have you read Genesis? Pretty wild versus right out of Greek mythology. Lest we not forget, men wrote the bible, not god.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      If you care to look up the Hebrew word there translated "circle" in English, it actually means "sphere" in the original language. And yes, there can be a canopy around a sphere. Ever heard of the ozone layer?

      June 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greeneyes

      Wiki, you say the bible says the earth is round. Really? Please advise where that verse or chapter is in the bible. I must have missed it (and a lot of other people too over the centuries). So please enlighten us.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      scroll up.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Alright I looked the word "chûg" up in the Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Lexicon and got "circle." Related to the verb root ch-g-g which means "to move in a circle."

      June 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greeneyes

      That's it? Wow! How did we ever miss it for thousands of years?

      Seems kind of like the way some read the Nostrodamus prophecies after something happens to make it fit what they want.

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

      Also the word for canopy can mean arch or vault. IE a structure shaped like this: ^. Ozone layer is by no means a canopy it would be something like a covering or shell.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      You missed it because you probably don't read the bible. And if a canopy isn't a covering, then I don't know what it is. I guess you got me. Wow. I guess i'm an evolutionist now.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      canopy=ozone

      June 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Just because a canopy is a type of covering doesn't mean all types of coverings can be called canopies. All dogs are animals does not meaning all animals are dogs, some are also cats. The point here is that a canopy (like a tent) is a specific type of covering which implies a flat base with a structure going over it. Imagine circus tent.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Or how thousands of years ago, the bible said the earth was round. Then, despite everyone on earth thinking it was flat, BANG!!!! they see it's round, and not supported by four elephants standing on a turtles back. (The bible said it was hanging on nothing.)'
      The bible said circle, not round, big difference. And the ancient greeks had already determined it was spherical by the way. And yep the bible said it was hanging on nothing......it isnt of course, its orbiting the sun as it whizzes through space.

      'If you care to look up the Hebrew word there translated "circle" in English, it actually means "sphere" in the original language'
      No it doesnt.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • MennoKnight

      Jason,
      What you have is a confusion between a Greek philosophy by Socrates and historic Christianity. For much of Christian history it did NOT teach that the earth was flat and the center of the universe. It was only during the medieval period then Socrates was put a parallel and equal to the Bible that the church taught this.
      For instance the famous Monk Roger Bacon in the 1200's taught that the World was a sphere. The alleged argument between the clergy and Columbus that the world was flat never happened. It was all made up by British poet and playwright.
      And for the few Popes who were against science they were suspect of everything at the time. There was a Reformation going on. Actually that was one of the reason for the Reformation.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Fine I'll concede the canopy point. Now answer me the other two. How can you be above a sphere (an object which by nature has no orientation) or how from a vantage point above a sphere the inhabitants on it are spread out like grasshoppers.

      Be careful here, because if you concede that when it talks about God being above the sphere it isn't talking about physical position, then you have no reason to attempt to use this verse to understand the physical shape of the earth.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Socrates never wrote anything. Sorry.

      And yes I am aware that Medieval Christians knew the earth was a sphere. I am not talking about Medieval Christians I am talking about the book of Isaiah. Frankly, in the Medieval university you read a lot more Aristotle than you did Isaiah.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      Have you ever flown in a plane? Were you above the earth? Did little cars seem to be spread over the surface? Might there also have been cars on the other side of the earth?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      And I will concede as well. Circle, not sphere.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      Or.... Have you ever played kick ball? When it soared over your head, were you under it?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Also what about Exodus 20?

      "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."

      Here we have heaven arching over the earth and the earth resting on water! Compare how dry land is created out of water. In the beginning when God was creating the earth there seems to already be water present.

      Compare this with the Enuma Elisha (older than the Bible BTW)

      "Who created the earth on the water and made firm the height of heaven?"

      The Bible has a variety of cosmologies. Depending on the date of the text.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      The plane example fails. You are talking about reference to a particular. I was above a part of the surface of the earth, yes. But in reference to the earth as a whole? Nope, I wasn't above it.

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

      I didn't follow your last comment, Jason. But you can have a relative postion to a sphere. If you jump over it, youre over it. If you lay down beside it, you're beside it. If you toss it up, you're under it. The heavens are referred to in different ways. They can be the heaven in which God inhabits. There's the atmosphere, where birds fly, referred to heavens. There are governments referred to as heavens.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Ok. Imagine is the space shuttle in orbit around the earth. Is it over the earth? Say the nose of the shuttle is point toward the ground. Is it still over the earth when pointing at Europe? Asia? The North Pole? South Africa? What if it flew to Pluto and was still pointing to that point. Is the Sun over the earth? Jupiter? The Andromeda galaxy?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      How could you jump over an object if there is no reference point and it is an object in space. Could the space shuttle jump over the earth? Or be beside it?

      Of course not. Otherwise it could be said to be over, under, beside, behind, and in front of the earth at the same time, which would render these concepts meaningless.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikiIeaks

      I enjoyed the conversation. Logical arguments on both sides. But I gotta get some work done before the day is out.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris Honry

    never-before-seen detail ? Try Hubble a decade ago, with even better images. FAIL ! Oh, OK, never-before-seen detail from a Euro project.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Camera technology has advanced a long way since Hubble was launched. These new images are higher resolution, but due to atmospheric conditions Hubble is far better at seeing very distant objects.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Oh, OK, never-before-seen detail from a Euro project.'
      you know Hubble was a joint NASA and European space agency project right?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Evolution

    Finally, one last point. This article is about the vastness and beauty of our Universe. These pictures arent 'hoaxes', nor are they meant to impinge on your religious views. i have an idea.. Why dont you Give God, your Creator, more credit?? From the way I see it, you are suggesting that He worked 6 days, and then he Rested.. and then apparently never went back to work?? Wow...what a job. Talk about a lay-about God. I want that schedule!
    What makes you think that once he got done here, He didnt go about doing the same thing through the rest of the Universe?
    Why did you pick an article about photos from a STELLAR NURSERY- where NEW Suns are being born, to espouse your religious dogma??

    June 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poof there is the universe

      Unfortunately, my creator was my parents, not a deity, as was yours. Wake up. Get your head out of the 2000 year old book that says to stone your child for disobedience and start to live in reality.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 23

    @RYAN IN MICHIGAN HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    RIDDLE ME THIS... DOES THE BIBLE MENTION DINOSAURS? YOU WOULD THINK THOSE "SCHOLARS" WORKING FOR KING JAMES IN THE 1600'S MIGHT HAVE PENNED THOSE MASSIVE CREATURES INTO THE TEXT. DID GOD FORGET? THE GREAT FLOOD.... ROFLMAO

    June 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ryan in Michigan

    Guess what – there are dogs that can walk on two legs as well. Therefore, according to evolution, we must be related, right?

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

      No, dogs do not have natural abilities to walk on two legs.

      Same with Apes.

      Except Ambam and his family are GENETICALLY different then other Apes that allow them to walk upright NATURALLY without hurting themselves or as a dog trick.

      How did they get this new capability?

      Up right, your "God" did it ....

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

      All life is related Ryan. We may not look like a tree or a dinosaur but deep down in the heart of life, we are identical. It isn't meant to be disrespectful, it's just the truth.

      The beauty of Science and Evolution is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 23

    LOOK ,ALL EXSISTENCE IS THE RESULT OF THE ORIGINAL SNUB! ALL HAIL DISCORDIA!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 23

    @Ryan in Michigan- YES SIR, I AM SURE YOU ARE

    June 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. erich2112x

    There are Gods buzzing around all over the universe busy with their creations. Just hoping for odds good enough for the perfect alignment that makes LIFE possible. Our God is an awesome God, just look at us. The envy of so many other Gods. If you can squeeze just one planet with intelligent life from a single 'Bang', you must be bad. If not? So sorry, you'll just have to wait till gravity brings it all back together and try, try again.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 23

    @A:.A:. 93?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mahhn

    what the hell CNN, stop removing post for fun, I see replies and not the original post.If you want community stop killing the comments you don't like and let us decide if we like them or not.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shaneeda Quit

    How does this nebula resemble an omega sign or horseshoe? Or for that matter a swan? It resembles a swan's droppings.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NoSacredCow

    The only thing theists have to go on is faith. The same faith that con artists use to dupe their targets.
    Atheists on the other hand just want a little evidence other than the 3,000 year old alleged statement of a bedouin who claims to have spoken to a burning bush who claims he was told to commit genocide and then wash up after.

    "You can short-circuit the two or three neurons that people use for common sense by appealing to their greed. Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things for phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating and religion." Scott Adams (Dilbert)

    June 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolution

      @NoSacredCow. Hey, now leave my sacred cows out of it!! Shouldn't mess with a man's bovines!!

      June 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Barry

    The question throughout history was never one of whether God existed, the question has been: What is it that lies behind and binds together your understanding of the universe?

    Denis Baly in his book, God and History in the Old Testament, explains that to the ancients, whatever it was that lay behind their understanding of what it was that held together their understanding of the universe, this, for them, was “god”.

    For the ancients, of course, we’re speaking in terms of gods and goddesses, and with the Hebrews a radically new understanding was presented relatively late in history–the reality of one vital force, which was responsible for and was controlling, guiding and directing everything in existence, down to the last atom.

    This means that if a person subscribes to the laws and principles of physics and mathematics, along with the accompanying understanding of how these matters play themselves out in day-to-day life, then this is for them god, along with their subsequent understanding of the consequences of and accompanying such a view.

    The question then is—what is it that lies behind your understanding of what it is that binds together your understanding of the universe, and what are the accompanying implications and consequences of such an understanding?

    We may call it what we like, but we all have an understanding of this ultimate Reality.

    Incidentally the philosopher Philo was convinced that there were certain realities or truths, which were universally true and evident, which could be universally accepted, regardless of whether a person held philosophical or pagan views, or those of the Hebrews and Christians.

    The Greeks used the word logos to refer to their understanding of this reality or principle.

    Incidentally I am a Christian, but I respect and appreciate matters of philosophy, science, physics, mathematics and evolution. To me these matters is in no way conflict with my belief the God of the Bible, one vital, life-giving force, which is responsible for this magnificent thing we call a universe.

    Incidentally the fact that we refer to the cosmos as the universe implies that we believe that there is a unity (a unifying principle and harmony) to the cosmos—otherwise we would refer to this as a multi-verse.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • baatman74

      Well, 300 words of philosophical mumbo jumbo, lol. In psychology 101, we begin with, 'there are certain realities in the world with which we must deal with to function on a daily basis. Some of them are that we are real, we feel, we see, we sense this reality as a constant." The universe is here like the rocks on the mountains, the mountains are there from earthquakes, earth continental plate movement. The trees grow because of the co2 animals breath out, we grow because we breath the oxygen the trees give us, among other things. Nobody on earth yet has the knowledge to predict where we came from, but with scientific exploration, we can prove there is no god that put this all in place. It is far to complicated for anything but billions of years of growth through evolution.... It's a long story..

      June 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Right on Barry, right on.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD

      Haha. I just think it's all cool.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slumberjack

      "To me these matters is in no way conflict with my belief the God of the Bible, one vital, life-giving force, which is responsible for this magnificent thing we call a universe."

      Would this be the same god of a book that for well over two thousand years inspired a literal interpretation through literal words of a talking snake, two animals of every kind on the ark (no room for dinosaurs though), a virgin pregnancy, along with a wide assortment of other nonsense?

      Matters of philosophy, science, physics, mathematics and evolution are matters of observation and experimentation that have been laid open to challenge and peer review from the earliest inception of the respective fields. The fact that accounts of god contained within a book with its origins from the time of the bronze age, the fact that the contents of which flies in the face of all modern logic, reason and challenge to this day, the fact that its adherents find it useful to twist themselves into knots by peddling the nonsense about physics and science being surrogate gods for those who prefer evidence over nothing at all, speaks to the evolution of the human mind itself, and is a clear enough indicator on its own that not all evolutionary developments are successful from a progressive standpoint. Religion continues to peer out from between the gaps in human knowledge in a futile search for legitimacy that is denied to it by modern understanding, and the sort of curiosity toward advancements in learning that even infants are capable of.

      These days as the world continues to expand upon the body of collective human knowledge across all of the sciences and schools of thought, we see religion still busying itself with the manufacture and peddling of the same snake oil dishonesty it's always sold to the proverbial ones being born every minute, where the unknowns of the universe itself continue to be explained to us as god. It continues to survive as it always has, through the stratagem of proposing a series of facts without a shred of evidence to support it, along the lines of the following:

      …philosophical questions that have yet to be unraveled....god;

      …mathematical theories that for the time being leave the best of them scratching their heads...god;

      …unknowns in the observable universe…god.

      …Questions that have yet to be answered by any scientific or scholarly discipline anywhere...god.

      As a result, we’re held back as a species in our understanding with the nonsensical default answer for far too many people to life's many unknowns....which the religionists refer to as god.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • MennoKnight

      Slumberjack you missed Barry's point. We don't answer the question with "I do not know, so the answer is God!" That is not what the brilliant Christian scientists did or do today. Might I remind you of whom some of those scientist were: Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, and Louis Pasture.
      To these people science showed once more the majesty of the creator, who was to them the only logical explanation of this finely tuned amazing planed universe.
      Again you fighting against a "straw man" argument. Just because some guy from "Answers in Genesis" says so, does not mean he speaks for all of Christianity, no more so than the Pope speaks for me either!

      June 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. IceT

    Kind of "ironic" to say this telescope sheds NEW light on the cosmos ... a little speed of light humor there.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another Evolutionary Biologist

      Oh snap!

      June 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GOP Hate America

    ok so where are these images?

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