Y. Beletsky

Via Láctea

Coração denso da Via Láctea é visto no deserto chileno de Atacama

This beautiful image shows the dense heart of the Milky Way stretched out above one of the Auxiliary Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). Such dark and star-studded skies are typical of the VLT’s location in the Chilean Atacama Desert, which offers spectacular views such as this night after night for all of the site’s astronomers, visitors, and staff to enjoy. The VLT is made up of four large Unit Telescopes, and four smaller and movable Auxiliary Telescopes (one of which is shown here). These eight telescopes observe the cosmos both individually and as a team from various orientations and positions, allowing astronomers to study all manner of cosmic objects and phenomena in greater detail than ever before.  The array has stimulated a new age of discoveries, with several notable scientific firsts — including the first image of a planet orbiting another star (known as an extrasolar planet or exoplanet), and tracking individual stars moving around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way (an object named Sagittarius A*).
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