In this special episode, prepared for their 50th anniversary, ESO is looking at one of the greatest quests that astronomers have pursued over the centuries: the search for life in the Universe. ESO has played an important role in this exciting journey. Scroll down for video
Fix your camera to a tripod and you can record graceful trails traced by the stars as planet Earth rotates on its axis. If the tripod is set up at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, high in the Atacama desert of Chile, your star trails would look something like this. Photographer: Alexandre Santerne
Astronomers using ESO’s world-leading exoplanet hunter HARPS have today announced a rich haul of more than 50 new exoplanets, including 16 super-Earths, one of which orbits at the edge of the habitable zone of its star. By studying the properties of all the HARPS planets found so far, the team has found that about 40% of stars similar to the Sun have at least one planet lighter than Saturn.
The stars rotate around the southern celestial pole during a night at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. The fuzzy parts in the trails on the right are due to the Magellanic Clouds, two small galaxies neighbouring the Milky Way. image credit: Iztok Bončina/ESO