Tag Archives: very large telescope

Artist's impression shows the material ejected from the region around the supermassive black hole in the quasar SDSS J1106+1939. (c) ESO

Most powerful quasar outflow detected is two trillion times more energetic than the sun

Astronomers using ESO‘s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have discovered the most powerful quasar outflow discovered to date – five times more energetic than the previous record holder.

Dubbed SDSS J1106+1939, the quasar outflow is at least equivalent to two million million times the power output of the Sun or 100 times higher than the total power output of the Milky Way galaxy. The newly discovered outflow lies about a thousand light-years away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of the quasar. This is a beast, make no mistake!

Artist's impression shows the material ejected from the region around the supermassive black hole in the quasar SDSS J1106+1939. (c) ESO

Artist’s impression shows the material ejected from the region around the supermassive black hole in the quasar SDSS J1106+1939. (c) ESO

Quasars are the most energetic cosmic objects in the Universe, and are powerful by black holes at the center of galaxies. Gravitational stresses and intense friction outside of the event horizon of black holes causes accretion of material around them, which in term power quasars that shovels massive amounts of escaping energy into cosmos.

According to Hubble’s law the redshift shows that quasars are very distant and, because of their distance, much older than our universe.

“I’ve been looking for something like this for a decade,” says team leader Nahum Arav from Virginia Tech, “so it’s thrilling to finally find one of the monster outflows that have been predicted!”

It is believed quasars and their outflows play a vital role in the formation of galaxies. Quasars may influence how the mass of a galaxy is linked to its central black hole mass, and why there are so few large galaxies in the Universe. Still, these issues and many more, are yet to be resolved. Our understanding of quasars has come a long way in the past few decades, and it is through milestone discoveries such as that of J1106+1939 that we will further expand our knowledge.

Findings were detailed in the The Astrophysical Journal.

Artist's impression of the "rogue planet" CFBDSIR2149 discovered in the AB Doradus group of moving stars. (European Southern Observatory/AFP)

Closest rogue planet discovered is just 100 light-years away

Like in a scene from a Sci-fi novel, about 100 light years away, somewhere in the constellation Doradus, a planet is travelling around the galaxy by itself, without orbiting a parent star. This “rogue planet“, has a temperature of about 400C and a mass between 4 to 7 times that of Jupiter – close to the mass limit beyond which it would have become a brown dwarf.

The object, that so far has the captivating name of CFBDSIR2149, has been discovered while observing a region of space occupied by a group of about 30 stars called the AB Doradus Moving Group – a group of stars that have formed at the same time – most likely from the same initial gaseous nebulae. This fact was derived from the similarities in the composition, age and the similar direction of movement through space of the stars – which place the age of this group somewhere between 50 and 120 million years old – a reasonably young star group.

Artist's impression of the "rogue planet" CFBDSIR2149 discovered in the AB Doradus group of moving stars. (European Southern Observatory/AFP)

Artist’s impression of the “rogue planet” CFBDSIR2149 discovered in the AB Doradus group of moving stars. (European Southern Observatory/AFP)

The initial observations placed the object in the category of brown dwarfs – a class of sub-stellar objects – that are more massive then the biggest planets – the gas giants, yet they don’t have enough mass to start nuclear fusion. However, further analyses revealed that our object was in fact smaller than this – making it a planet – a gas giant. The whole detection was possible due to the fact that our “rogue” emits light in the infrared wavelengths.

Astronomers said that based on its estimated age, through computer models of planetary evolution, they were able to make further deductions regarding the planet’s mass – 4 to 7 times the mass of Jupiter, and surface temperature of 400 degrees Celsius (750 degrees Fahrenheit).

The planet was discovered during a survey using the infrared cameras of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, as study co-author Etienne Artigau of the University of Montreal said: “This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1,000 times the [area] of the full moon.

Of course, this is not the first time such a “nomad planet” has been spotted, but this observation is special because it found the closest such object discovered so far – only 100 light years away, the first such planet that is relatively close to our solar system, as study co-author Etienne Artigau put it: “We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighbourhood“.

A big question in the case of all such rogue planets is how this planet came to be? Maybe it formed inside a solar system, just as any other planet, and got ejected afterwards – through gravitational interaction perhaps with a more massive object entering that system. Or it formed separate from any solar system from the beginning, similar to the formation of a star – through progressive accretion of the gas of a dense nebulae. This question remains open – and perhaps will remain for some time to come.

Philippe Delorme of France’s Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics said: “these objects are important, as they can either help us understand more about how planets may be ejected from planetary systems, or how very light objects can arise from the star formation process.”

The findings were reported in the journal Solar and Stellar Astrophysics.

source: BBC

Spiral Galaxy supernova

Brilliant spiral Galaxy hosts two supernovae in past 30 years [PHOTO]

The European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile is back with yet another stunning gem. This spectacular spiral galaxy has hosted two supernova explosions over the last 30 years, making it particularly interesting. Supernovae are one of the brightest and most energetic events in the Universe.

Spiral Galaxy supernova

The galaxy’s name is NGC 1187, and is located 60 million light years away from Earth , in the constellation Eridanus. The first supernova found in NGC 1187, officially called SN 1982R, was detected in October 1982 at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The second one, called SN 2007Y, was spotted by amateur astronomer Berto Monard in South Africa in 2007.

When a star reaches the end of its life, it dies off in a spectacular fashion, exploding with a high energy release. So you can imagine the magnitude of its energy release, consider that the radiated energy during a supernova explosion is comparable to the amount of energy the sun will emit over the entire course of its life. Also, it’s no rare event for a supernova to outshine whole galaxies before fading away during the course of a few years.

The first supernova from NGC 1187 is no longer visible in this image, however the second from 2007 is still visible near the bottom of the image, albeit fainter since it’s well past its climax point. Nevertheless, the spiral galaxy is stunning itself, with or without supernovae.

source MNN. Image credit: ESO.

The Carina Nebula, captured in infrared by the Very Large Telescope. (c) ESO/T. Preibisch

The Carina Nebula in all its splendor [AMAZING PHOTO]

The Carina Nebula, captured in infrared by the Very Large Telescope. (c)  ESO/T. Preibisch

The Carina Nebula, captured in infrared by the Very Large Telescope. (c) ESO/T. Preibisch

This incredible photo of the Carina Nebuna, a massive star formation , was taken by the  The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), in the infrared spectrum. Even the astronomers from the ESO, who are privileged enough to witness some of the most amazing sights in the Universe, claim in a recent press release that this “one of the most dramatic images ever created by the VLT.”

The photo is in fact a mosaic of hundreds of smaller images, combined to form a giant, sublime picture. Because the photo was captured in infrared, a more accurate depiction of the formation, which contain some of the brightest stars know to astronomers, has been made, since most of its features don’t show in the visible spectrum. This is because cloud formation obstruct views, and infrared imaging can see right through these, but when it hits really dense gas and dust clouds that’s where it stops. This is why you can see some of the dark cloud formations in the photo captioned above, which couldn’t make the amateur star gazer more happier, adding even more beauty to an otherwise flawless “painting”.

The Carina Nebula is basically a stellar nursery, located deep in the heart of the Milky Way, 7500 light-years away from Earth, in the Carina (The Keel) constellation. A massive cloud of glowing gas and dust, the Carina Nebula is home to one of the most brightest and heaviest known stars to man, and makes for a perfect laboratory for astronomers studying the violent births and early lives of stars.


Brilliant Very Large Telescope image captures the tumult of a starbirth

The process of starbirth is a beautiful yet violent one; newborn stars spew material into the surrounding gas, creating surreal photos, often with glowing bulbs, arcs or streaks. This kind of picture is always spectacular, and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) managed to catch quite a few of them on camera, delighting astronomers and the general public as well. This new image, released today, was taken in NGC 6729, a nearby star-forming region in the constellation Corona Australis.

This area is a stellar nursery, one of the ones which are closest to us, and therefore one of the most studied. This image was selected from the ESO archive by Sergey Stepanenko, as part of the Hidden Treasures competition. The 2010 competition gave amateur astronomers the opportunity to search through ESO’s archives in the hope that a few gems that need polishing would be found, and Stepanenko’s picture rated third, as Igor Chelakin claimed both the first and second prize, with some absolutely stunning pictures (here and here).

The first stages of star development cannot be observed in visible light telescopes, because they eject so much dust, but although you cannot see them, you can see the havoc they wreaked.

In this picture, you can easily see the Herbig Haro objects showcasing the two probable lines of material ejection. The different colours reflect different star forming conditions, for example glowing hydrogen is orange, ionized sulphur is blue, and understanding the processes that led to this image can help astronomers unravel what is happening in this hectic part of space.

Pictures via ESO