This image, captured with the VISTA infrared survey telescope, as part of the Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) ESO public survey, shows the central part of the Milky Way. While normally hidden behind obscuring dust, the infrared capabilities of VISTA allow to study the stars close to the galactic centre. Within this field of view astronomers detected several ancient stars, of a type known as RR Lyrae. As RR Lyrae stars typically reside in ancient stellar populations over 10 billion years old, this discovery suggests that the bulging centre of the Milky Way likely grew through the merging of primordial star clusters.
Ancient stars, of a type known as RR Lyrae, have been discovered in the centre of the Milky Way for the first time, using ESO’s infrared VISTA telescope. RR Lyrae stars typically reside in ancient stellar populations over 10 billion years old. Their discovery suggests that the bulging centre of the Milky Way likely grew through the merging of primordial star clusters. These stars may even be the remains of the most massive and oldest surviving star cluster of the entire Milky Way.
This spectacular starry field of view shows the globular cluster NGC 6553 which is located approximately 19 000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. In this field, astronomers discovered a mysterious microlensing event. (more)
New infrared view of the Trifid Nebula reveals new variable stars far beyond
4 February 2015
A new image taken with ESO’s VISTA survey telescope reveals the famous Trifid Nebula in a new and ghostly light. By observing in infrared light, astronomers can see right through the dust-filled central parts of the Milky Way and spot many previously hidden objects. In just this tiny part of one of the VISTA surveys, astronomers have discovered two unknown and very distant Cepheid variable stars that lie almost directly behind the Trifid. They are the first such stars found that lie in the central plane of the Milky Way beyond its central bulge. (more)
This image shows a region of the Milky Way that lies within the constellation of Scorpius, close to the central plane of the galaxy. The region hosts a dense cloud of dust and gas associated with the molecular cloud IRAS 16562-3959, clearly visible as an orange smudge among the rich pool of stars at the centre of the image.(more)
This new image, from ESO’s VISTA telescope, shows a newly-discovered brown dwarf nicknamed VVV BD001, which is located at the very centre of this zoomableimage. It is the first new brown dwarf spotted in our cosmic neighbourhood as part of the VVV Survey. VVV BD001 is located about 55 light-years away from us, towards the very crowded centre of our galaxy. (more)
ESO telescopes create the best 3D map yet of central bulge of the Milky Way
12 September 2013
Two groups of astronomers have used data from ESO telescopes to make the best three-dimensional map yet of the central parts of the Milky Way. They have found that the inner regions take on a peanut-like, or X-shaped, appearance from some angles. This odd shape was mapped by using public data from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope along with measurements of the motions of hundreds of very faint stars in the central bulge. (more)
A new image from ESO’s VISTA telescope captures a celestial landscape of glowing clouds of gas and tendrils of dust surrounding hot young stars. This infrared view reveals the stellar nursery known as NGC 6357 in a surprising new light. It was taken as part of a VISTA survey that is currently scanning the Milky Way in a bid to map our galaxy’s structure and explain how it formed. (more)
Today, at ESO’s premises in Santiago, the European Southern Observatory and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile launched the book Vistas de la Galaxia (Vistas of the Galaxy), by astronomers Dante Minniti, Joyce Pullen and Ignacio Toledo.
Vistas de la Galaxia tells the story of an ambitious astronomical project and the people behind the amazing discoveries of a three-year trip through the Universe using ESO’s 4.1-metre Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), the world’s largest survey telescope.
The book describes in depth a series of discoveries that have been made with VISTA in recent years. These include more than 100 new star clusters (eso1128, eso1141), novae and over 300 new distant galaxies, among many others. Recently an international team of astronomers, including the lead author of the new book, has also used VISTA to create a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central region of the Milky Way. This is the largest catalogue ever made of centre of our galaxy (eso1242).
VISTA creates largest ever catalogue of centre of our galaxy
24 October 2012
Using a whopping nine-gigapixel image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, an international team of astronomers has created a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central parts of the Milky Way. This gigantic dataset contains more than ten times more stars than previous studies and is a major step forward for the understanding of our home galaxy. The image gives viewers an incredible, zoomable view of the central part of our galaxy. It is so large that, if printed with the resolution of a typical book, it would be 9 metres long and 7 metres tall. (more)
…and sees right through the heart of the Milky Way
19 October 2011
Two newly discovered globular clusters have been added to the total of just 158 known globular clusters in our Milky Way. They were found in new images from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope as part of the Via Lactea (VVV) survey. This survey has also turned up the first star cluster that is far beyond the centre of the Milky Way and whose light has had to travel right through the dust and gas in the heart of our galaxy to get to us. (more)
Using data from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, an international team of astronomers has discovered 96 new open star clusters hidden by the dust in the Milky Way. These tiny and faint objects were invisible to previous surveys, but they could not escape the sensitive infrared detectors of the world’s largest survey telescope, which can peer through the dust. This is the first time so many faint and small clusters have been found at once. (more)
This new infrared image of the Lagoon Nebula was captured as part of a five-year study of the Milky Way using ESO’s VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. This is a small piece of a much larger image of the region surrounding the nebula, which is, in turn, only one part of a huge survey.(more)