Mountaintop majesty – Astronomy Now

ESO/P. Horálek

The sinuous river of stars representing the Milky Way sweeps across Cerro Paranal in Chile, home of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (at the summit left) and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, VISTA (at the summit). rightmost).

BBetween the two peaks is a glowing, blazing sphere, but appearances are deceptive. This is not a glowing light on the mountainside, but the planet Jupiter photographed at the moment it is rising over the landscape. On the far left is a completely different galaxy – the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The Very Large Telescope is a massive observatory with multiple telescopes unto itself. Its main instruments are the four large main telescopes, each with a mirror 8.2 meters in diameter. Named Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun, which refer to astronomical names in the local Mapuche language, the unit telescopes can be operated either individually or together as a giant interferometer, often in tandem with four other, smaller telescopes located in front location. These are the 1.8 meter auxiliary telescopes that move on rails to adjust the shape of the collection area to the target being observed.

VISTA, on the other hand, is a near-infrared-optimized telescope built by British institutions as part of the UK’s accession agreement to the European Southern Observatory. With a 4.1 meter mirror, VISTA is the largest infrared survey telescope in the world and has only one instrument, the VISTA Infrared Camera (VIRCAM), but will have a new instrument called 4MOST – 4-Meter Multi-Object Spectroscopic in the coming year Telescope – will be added to VISTA. Using optical fibers moved by robotic drives, it will be able to simultaneously acquire spectra of 2,400 objects in the field of view, be they stars, galaxies or large nebulae. Image: ESO/P. Horálek. Mountaintop majesty – Astronomy Now

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