Virtual Observatories

SalsaJ 2 offers a new possibility: the use of amazing astronomical images, in colour. These images have been taken by the astronomers of the European Southern Observatory ESO, and can be used freely.

Here is a list of the available images with some explanations.

 

  • Alma telescope at Chajnantor: Artist rendering of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in an extended configuration.
  • Centaurus A black Hole: This galaxy is a most interesting object for the present attempts to understand active galaxies. It is being investigated by means of observations in all spectral regions, from radio via infrared and optical wavelengths to X- and gamma-rays. On images obtained at optical wavelengths, thick dust layers almost completely obscure the galaxy's centre. This structure was first reported by Sir John Herschel in 1847. Until 1949, NGC 5128 was thought to be a strange object in the Milky Way, but it was then identified as a powerful radio galaxy and designated Centaurus A. The core of Centaurus A is the smallest known extragalactic radio source, only 10 light-days across. A jet of high-energy particles from this centre is observed in radio and X-ray images. The core probably contains a supermassive black hole with a mass of about 100 million solar masses.
  • Chandra deep field with many galaxies: observations were made over a period of 40 hours and constitute the deepest image ever taken from the ground in the U-band. The image shows galaxies that are 1 billion times fainter than can be seen by the unaided eye.
  • Christmas Tree NGC2264: This colour image of the region known as NGC 2264 — an area of sky that includes the sparkling blue baubles of the Christmas Tree star cluster and the Cone Nebula — was created from data taken through four different filters (B, V, R and H-alpha) with the Wide Field Imager at ESO's La Silla Observatory, 2400 m high in the Atacama Desert of Chile in the foothills of the Andes. The image shows a region of space about 30 light-years across.
  • Crab Nebula M1:This photo shows a three colour composite of the well-known Crab Nebula (also known as Messier 1). It is the remnant of a supernova explosion at a distance of about 6,000 light-years, observed almost 1,000 years ago, in the year 1054. It contains a neutron star near its center that spins 30 times per second around its axis. In this picture, the green light is predominantly produced by hydrogen emission from material ejected by the star that exploded. The blue light is predominantly emitted by very high-energy ("relativistic") electrons that spiral in a large-scale magnetic field (so-called syncrotron emission). It is believed that these electrons are continuously accelerated and ejected by the rapidly spinning neutron star at the centre of the nebula and which is the remnant core of the exploded star. This pulsar has been identified with the lower/right of the two close stars near the geometric center of the nebula, immediately left of the small arc-like feature.
  • Dumbbell Nebula: The Dumbbell Nebula - also known as Messier 27 or NGC 6853 - is a typical planetary nebula and is located in the constellation Vulpecula (The Fox). The distance is rather uncertain, but is believed to be around 1,200 light-years. It was first described by the French astronomer and comet hunter Charles Messier who found it in 1764 and included it as no. 27 in his famous list of extended sky objects [2] .Despite its class, the Dumbbell Nebula has nothing to do with planets. It consists of very rarified gas that has been ejected from the hot central star (well visible on this photo), now in one of the last evolutionary stages. The gas atoms in the nebula are excited (heated) by the intense ultraviolet radiation from this star and emit strongly at specific wavelengths.
  • Eagle Nebula: Messier 16 (M16), also known as the Eagle Nebula, is located in the southern constellation of Serpens (the Snake). The wide-field view of M16 shows that there is much happening in the region. The first impression one gets is of an enormous number of stars. Those which are blue in the infrared image are either members of the young NGC 6611 cluster — whose massive stars are concentrated in the upper right (north west) part of the field — or foreground stars which happen to lie along the line of sight towards M16.Most of the stars are fainter and more yellow. They are ordinary stars behind M16, along the line of sight through the galactic bulge, and are seen through the molecular clouds out of which NGC 6611 formed. Some very red stars are also seen : these are either very young and embedded in gas and dust clouds, or just brighter stars in the background shining through them.
  • Eta Carinae: This new image of the luminous blue variable Eta Carinae was taken with the NACO near-infrared adaptive optics instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope, yielding an incredible amount of detail. The images clearly shows a bipolar structure as well as the jets coming out from the central star.
  • Flame Nebula: This image, the first to be released publicly from VISTA, the world’s largest survey telescope, shows the spectacular star-forming region known as the Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter) and its surroundings. In views of this evocative object in visible light the core of the nebula is completely hidden behind obscuring dust, but in this VISTA view, taken in infrared light, the cluster of very young stars at the object’s heart is revealed. The wide-field VISTA view also includes the glow of the reflection nebula NGC 2023, just below centre, and the ghostly outline of the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) towards the lower right. The bright bluish star towards the right is one of the three bright stars forming the Belt of Orion.
  • Galactic Center: The central parts of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, as observed in the near-infrared with the NACO instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. By following the motions of the most central stars over more than 16 years, astronomers were able to determine the mass of the supermassive black hole that lurks there.
  • Helix Nebula: This colour-composite image of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) was created from images obtained using the the Wide Field Imager (WFI), an astronomical camera attached to the 2.2-metre Max-Planck Society/ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile. The blue-green glow in the centre of the Helix comes from oxygen atoms shining under effects of the intense ultraviolet radiation of the 120 000 degree Celsius central star and the hot gas. Further out from the star and beyond the ring of knots, the red colour from hydrogen and nitrogen is more prominent. A careful look at the central part of this object reveals not only the knots, but also many remote galaxies seen right through the thinly spread glowing gas.
  • Horsehead Nebula: A reproduction of a composite colour image of the Horsehead Nebula and its immediate surroundings.
  • Jewel Box cluster NGC4755: The FORS1 instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory was used to take this exquisitely sharp close up view of the colourful Jewel Box cluster, NGC 4755.
  • Milky Way: This magnificent 360-degree panoramic image, covering the entire southern and northern celestial sphere, reveals the cosmic landscape that surrounds our tiny blue planet. This gorgeous starscape serves as the first of three extremely high-resolution images featured in the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, launched by ESO within the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). The plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, which we see edge-on from our perspective on Earth, cuts a luminous swath across the image. The projection used in GigaGalaxy Zoom place the viewer in front of our Galaxy with the Galactic Plane running horizontally through the image — almost as if we were looking at the Milky Way from the outside. From this vantage point, the general components of our spiral galaxy come clearly into view, including its disc, marbled with both dark and glowing nebulae, which harbours bright, young stars, as well as the Galaxy’s central bulge and its satellite galaxies. As filming extended over several months, objects from the Solar System came and went through the star fields, with bright planets such as Venus and Jupiter.
  • New planetary system Gliese 581
  • Omega Centauri
  • Orion Nebula
  • Pair of Galaxies NGC1532
  • Pluto artiste view
  • Sombrero Galaxy
  • Spiral Galaxy Messier 83
  • Spiral Galaxy NGC1232
  • Spiral Galaxy NGC253
  • Spiral Galaxy NGC300
  • Spiral Galaxy NGC4945
  • Starburst Region NGC3603
  • Star R Coronae Australis
  • Stellar cluster NGC2467
  • Stellar Nursery
  • The Moon
  • Trifid Nebula
  • VLT Paranal platform
  • VLT Paranal with laser