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Omega Nebula and Omega Centauri in Dramatic Detail

VLT Survey Telescope Releases First Images

By Andrés Cordova
Epoch Times Staff
Created: June 8, 2011 Last Updated: April 10, 2012
Related articles: Science » Space & Astronomy
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The first released VST image shows the spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, as it has never been seen before. This vast region of gas, dust and hot young stars lies in the heart of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius, the Archer. (ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM)

The first released VST image shows the spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, as it has never been seen before. This vast region of gas, dust and hot young stars lies in the heart of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius, the Archer. (ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM)

Images of the Omega Nebula and the globular cluster Omega Centauri are among the first amazing shots from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), released today by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The VST is a visible-light 2.6 meter aperture telescope. At its center is OmegaCAM—a 770 kilogram 268-megapixel camera. VST’s field of view is double the diameter of the full moon.

The VST is the world’s largest telescope for surveying our skies in visible light, and will work in conjunction with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, one of the best observation sites on Earth.

“The combination of large field of view, excellent image quality, and the very efficient operations scheme of the VST will produce an enormous wealth of information that will advance many fields of astrophysics,” says Konrad Kuijken, head of the OmegaCAM consortium in an ESO press release.

Omega Centauri is the largest globular cluster in the sky, but the very wide field of view of VST and OmegaCAM can encompass even the faint outer regions of this spectacular object. This view, which includes about 300 000 stars, demonstrates the excellent resolution of VST. (ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM)

Omega Centauri is the largest globular cluster in the sky, but the very wide field of view of VST and OmegaCAM can encompass even the faint outer regions of this spectacular object. This view, which includes about 300 000 stars, demonstrates the excellent resolution of VST. (ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM)

The VST will conduct three public surveys in the next five years, studying galaxy evolution, dark matter, and dark energy, plus regions away from the Milky Way.

It will also map the whole structure of the Milky Way’s galactic disk and its star formation history, producing a catalogue of about 500 million objects, including new unusual stars at all stages of evolution.

“The superb images now coming from VST and OmegaCAM are a tribute to the hard work of many groups around Europe over many years,” says Massimo Capaccioli, principal investigator of the VST project, in the release. “We are now looking forward to a rich harvest of science and unexpected discoveries from the VST surveys.”

This montage shows six cutouts from the new VST image of the star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or Swan Nebula. (ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM)

This montage shows six cutouts from the new VST image of the star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or Swan Nebula. (ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM)

 

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