The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is an international astronomical organisation, composed and supported by ten countries from the European Union plus Switzerland and was created in 1962. It is famous for discovering a candidate to be farthest galaxy ever seen by humans, the Abell 1835 IR1916 galaxy, though this claim seems to be debunked by a series of new articles. It also obtained recently the first picture of an exosolar planet; orbiting a brown dwarf 260 light-years away.
Most of its observation facilities are located in Chile (hence the name "Southern"), and the headquarters are located in Garching near Munich, Germany. ESO operates two major observatories in the Atacama desert, Chile:
One of the most ambitious ESO projects is the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL). If built, it will be the largest telescope in the world.
Observatories Host Country:
Instruments at La Silla
This telescope is loaned from the Max Planck Gesellschaft. Its instrumentation includes both a spectroscope and a wide-field CCD imager capable of mapping substantial portions of the sky in a single exposure.
A conventionally designed horseshoe mount telescope, this is mostly instrumented for infrared spectroscopy.
Although the NTT is almost the same size as the 3.6m telescope, the use of active optics makes it a higher resolution instrument. Also it had, at the time of building, innovative thermal control systems to minimise the telescope and dome seeing.
Instruments at Paranal
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is the main instrument, composed of four near-identical 8.2 m telescopes. In addition the four main telescopes can combine their light to make a fifth instrument, the VLTI, Very Large Telescope Interferometer. Four auxiliary telescopes of 1.8m each are being added to the VLTI to make it available when the main telescopes are being used for other projects. The first of these was installed in early 2004.
The site also carries 2.5m and 4m survey telescopes with wider fields of view for surveying large areas of sky uniformly.
- ESO: http://www.eso.org
- Very Large Telescope (http://www.eso.org/paranal)
- La Silla Observatory (http://www.ls.eso.org)