Posts Tagged ‘la silla’

Big Bang Monday: Little Green Men

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Very interesting piece by Liz Fuller-Wright in the CSM last week on the discovery of variably-pulsating stars. Intially referred to as LGM-1 by the astronomers at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, including graduate student Jocelyn Bell. The “LGM” stood for “little green men.”

For seven years, the research team observed more than 3,000 young stars in the star cluster NGC 3766 for a few weeks each year. They found variable stars – 163 of them – including 36 that seem to break all the rules of pulsars. In fact, they held off on labeling the stars “pulsars,” choosing the less controversial label of “periodic variable stars,” though they said that they expect the scientific community to confirm that they are, in fact, pulsars.

As with many astronomic discoveries, it takes quite a while to confirm “discoveries.” This one in particular may rewrite the book on pulsar formation.

That’s pretty awesome. Maybe we’ll see pulsars in BigBangPrints soon.

Looks Like The Milky Way

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

This galaxy is similar to our own Milky Way. Located 30 million light years away, NGC 6744 was recently observed from the La Silla observatory in Chile.

More about the image via

This picture of the nearby galaxy NGC 6744 was taken with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla. The large spiral galaxy is similar to the Milky Way, making this image look like a picture postcard of our own galaxy sent from extragalactic space. The picture was created from exposures taken through four different filters that passed blue, yellow-green, red light, and the glow coming from hydrogen gas. These are shown in this picture as blue, green, orange and red, respectively.

ESO astronomers have used the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope to capture an image of NGC 6744. This impressive spiral galaxy lies about 30 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Pavo (The Peacock). But this view could almost be a picture postcard of our own Milky Way, taken and sent by an extragalactic friend, as this galaxy closely resembles our own.

We see NGC 6744 almost face on, meaning we get a dramatic bird’s eye view of the galaxy’s structure. If we had the technology to escape the Milky Way and could look down on it from intergalactic space, this view is close to the one we would see — striking spiral arms wrapping around a dense, elongated nucleus and a dusty disc. There is even a distorted companion galaxy — NGC 6744A, seen here as a smudge to the lower right of NGC 6744, which is reminiscent of one of the Milky Way’s neighbouring Magellanic Clouds.

One difference between NGC 6744 and the Milky Way is their size. While our galaxy is roughly 100 000 light-years across, the galaxy pictured here extends to almost twice this diameter. Nevertheless, NGC 6744 gives us a tantalising sense of how a distant observer might see our own galactic home.