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. Narf

    that's an amazing image...i'm not sure why it leads to atheism/religion bashing but okei. lets just marvel at the universe and leave each other in peace, ya?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Opinion

    Not sure how a picture of the universe is considered open forum to discuss religion. God exists. If you think he exists "out there..." then you are mistaken. Oops, was my punctuation inappropriate? If you can pay attention to the words and not the punctuation...God exists through Jesus Christ in your heart and there is no "religion", it is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Until you experience that for yourself, you will not understand.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scott

    The universe is complex and that is proof to some people that there has to be a god that made it all? What logic is there in that belief? If that belief is true then imagine how complex that being is! How could he exist without some divine being creating him and how could that super complex divine being exist with someone creating him? If this is true then there must be an infinite race of divine beings that created each other one after another, so that you never have to answer the question. I was curious.... Does this guy that a lot of people believe made it all, wear a cape or carry a magic wand? We look back at civilizations that believed in multiple gods and consider them to be to be primitive and their beliefs amusing. It is likely that one day humanity will look back at the belief that there was one Super-Being that made it all as being quite humorous, highly amusing and very primitive as well.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Regardless of your belief there must have been a starting point. There matter is very simple.. either something created it or the starting point appeared out of thin air. I won't pretned I understand God or his being but I believe that I've observed complex things that were created quite a bit more often than I've observed things spontaneously appearing from nothingness. At the end of the day whether you are aethist or Theistic you have a belief as you cannot prove anything either way using logic...

      June 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • some dude

      I believe God has to exist for anything else to. If the universe began from nothing, where did the big bang take place? There had to be something or someone before that right? When you put it as something had to create something and then that something had to create something...It would have to have eventually something or someone that had always been (God). The universe had a beginning, but in the persepective of eternity, something had to always exist without a start.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • baatman74

      god is an imagination of those who need to believe they are not just like the rabbit in the forest, they can't face that when we die, we too shall rot away like Merle Haggard's Rambler that falls along the road like the ole 'High Line Pole.' Yes, religious folks need this crutch, myself and fellow Atheist's understand that we came from the earth and shall return there at death, never to be heard from again.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Texan86

    Im an atheist, and honestly it doesnt make a difference to me whether or not someone thinks atheism is a religion (or not). Simply put, i see no evidence for a god or gods, so i dont believe in him or them. When it comes down to it, i honestly dont know whether there is a god or not. But because of the absence of evidence I am more compeled to not believe. Thats all.

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

      You see no evidence? What you can "see" has been proven to not be actually "real". That which you can "see" is only an illusion. So what you are saying is you "believe" in an illusion (your perception of reality) because you can "see" it. All beliefs are the same... they are just beliefs.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texan86

      Oing. Your right. What we see is not 'real'. What we see is our brains interpretation of light. Atheism is a belief. Not disagreeing with you

      June 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another Evolutionary Biologist

      Excellent prospective! From a rational, reasonable Christian to a rational, reasonable Atheist: Here's to mutual respect!

      June 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jdf

    Five different-sized globules of blood EACH, and in any combination, weigh the SAME AS ALL of them together: the miracle of Lanciano, Italy, from the 8th century. SCIENCE PROVES God. And in this Miracle, the Lord shows His exclusive favor toward the Liturgy, teachings and authority of His one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, in union with the Bishop of Rome.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texan86

      Science proves that fascinating things happen, sometimes unexplainable. But that doesnt prove that there is a god or gods.

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

      oh please, miracles no less, lol.

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

      Its a very specific miracle with multiple other aspects as well - NOT POSSIBLY just coincidences - such as blood type matching other miracles and the Shroud of Turin, centuries before blood type could be determined. Google it. Read it with intelligent discernment.

      June 14, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    Awesome "pics" even though there is only one. 🙂

    June 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Texan86

    Im an atheist, and honestly it doesnt make a difference to me whether or not someone thinks atheism is a religion (or not). Simply put, i see no evidence for a god or gods, so i dont believe in him or them. When it comes down to it, i honestly dont know whether there is a god or not. But because of the absence of evidence I am more compeled to not believe. Its the same reason I dont believe in Santa Claus! 🙁 Thats all.

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


    June 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shadow

    If you look closely enough you can make out three faces in the picture, in the top slightly right you can make out the nose and slight face of a dark person, then if you look at the white you can see the nose and distinct mouth and lips below it, and then if you look below that you can make out another nose with eyebrows above it and what look like a beard sticking out below, kind of cool, hope you guys can see it

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

      dude..i want to party with you.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Yes,I do see at least three images of faces,strange..

      June 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Barry

    I did read the article.

    If you found my post confusing, perhaps it was not due to the content or grammatical construction—perhaps it was due to its erudite nature.

    I encourage you to consult a basic grammar, where I trust you will find that my use of punctuation is grammatically correct.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kukulcan

    Actually we all are spirits on our path to become rulers of your own little galaxy. There are billions of galaxies and billions of us. Wouldn't that be cool.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. eyeofthestorm28

    If we have the technology to zoom that far out in space, then why can't we see the so-called structure on Mars, water on moon, the American flag on the moon and capture the alien civilization from another planet? Oh wait....government says no!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rudi

    Do you want to know how deep we can really see into deep space? The true answer…not the baloni….you have to go to www TheDimensionMachine dot come . Look on the chapter summary and you will be surprised what the answer is. Thanks Rudi

    June 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sfe

    I like how no matter how bad things seem on Earth, and how many D-bags choose to start religious debates on an article about stars, the universe still looks stunning.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ActnJackson

      Exactly, Sfe. This article is not about belief in God, or Disbelief therein, or the next election. It's about SCIENCE, all you Militant-Aethiests/Bible Thumpers/Politically-Polarized j@ck@sses.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ccyprian

    while we gaze deep into space wondering if there's "Intelligent Life" somewhere out there, with a small relative change in perspective we could be wondering about ourselves...

    June 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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