ESO shares this stunning view of Milky Way as it stretches over Atacama Desert

Devdiscourse News Desk | Garching | Updated: 08-08-2022 16:16 IST | Created: 08-08-2022 14:56 IST
ESO shares this stunning view of Milky Way as it stretches over Atacama Desert
Image Credit: ESO/M. Zamani

The European Southern Observatory's Picture of the Week shows a stunning view of our home galaxy - the Milky Way - as it stretches over the Atacama Desert in Chile.

The Atacama Desert is home to ESO's Paranal Observatory, one of the very best astronomical observing sites in the world and the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. It hosts several world-class telescopes including the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), and the VLT Survey Telescope.

In the foreground, you can see the NGTS, short for Next-Generation Transit Survey, which is part of Paranal's arsenal of telescopes. NGTS is made up of an array of twelve individual telescopes that continuously monitor the sky, looking for dips in the brightness of hundreds of thousands of stars.

NGTS' key objective is to hunt for transiting exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) around bright, nearby stars using a technique called transit photometry, which precisely measures the slight dimming of a star's light when a planet passes in front of it. It also works in tandem with ESO's VLT and VISTA which are visible in the background.

"When NGTS detects new planet candidates, ESO instruments, such as the exoplanet specialists HARPS at ESO's La Silla Observatory or ESPRESSO at the VLT, can do follow-up observations. From these observations, we can learn about the masses of these exoplanets and the compositions of their atmospheres. With the combined power of these facilities, the exoplanets of the Milky Way are being studied with the highest possible precision and detail there is," ESO wrote in a post.

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