New Telescope for the Southern Skies

Via Wired, by Dave Mosher

Looking up from Chile’s arid Atacama Desert, home to some of the clearest starscapes on Earth, a massive new telescope has taken its first breathtaking photos of the southern night sky.

The VLT Survey Telescope, or VST, uses a 268-megapixel camera. Over the next five years it will capture 150 terabytes worth of visible-light data, supplement existing surveys and help astronomers study the universe in fresh detail.

On June 8, astronomers released the first two VST images. One is a 660-megabyte portrait of the Swan Nebula (above). The other is an equally detailed shot of Omega Centauri, a star-rich globular cluster sometimes called the jewel of the southern night sky.

Image: ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM [high-resolution version]

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