Very Large Telescope Array (03:06)
International astronomy research organization ESO has four locations in Chile's Atacama Desert. It will start operating the world's largest telescope in 2024. On Cerro Paranal, the VLT takes advantage of low turbulence and clear atmospheric conditions.
VLT Engineering (03:49)
The array combines light from four large telescopes and four auxiliary telescopes to create a mirror, a technique known as interferometry. It has captured the world's sharpest image of a star, to date. Learn about adaptive optics and active optics.
Spectro Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research (02:56)
The SPHERE instrument is mounted on a VLT mirror. It blocks light from central stars, capturing polarized light from planets. See images from AU Microscopii, a young star surrounded by a dust disk indicating possible exoplanets.
Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (03:10)
The VISTA telescope carries out infrared surveys, identifying objects for VLTs to study in detail. Astronomers scan outer space light from gamma ray to radio ranges. Compare optical and infrared images of planetary nebulae, gas nebulae, and galaxies.
Milky Way Black Hole (02:39)
The ESO measures paths of objects orbiting around the black hole using the VLT's adaptive optics. A gas cloud is elongating as it approaches the black hole.
Atacama Desert (01:45)
Astronomers search for life on exoplanets from one of Earth's least hospitable ecosystems. See footage of wildlife.
La Silla Observatory (02:01)
Learn about the Swedish-ESO Submillimeter Telescope, New Technology Telescope, and Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope.
High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (03:02)
Astronomers break down a star's light into colors to analyze its composition. The HARPS spectograph, attached to La Silla's ESO 3.6-meter Telescope, has discovered many low mass exoplanets due to wobbles in star velocity.
Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life (01:37)
There are over 3,500 known exoplanets. Planets must be located in the habitable zone for water to exist. Radio telescopes listen for signals from alien civilizations.
Pale Red Dot Collaboration (05:28)
A global observation campaign searches for exoplanets orbiting Proxima Centauri. Hear methods used to detect Proxima Centauri B, a habitable planet similar to Earth. Learn about the Breakthrough Initiatives' Starshot program sending a space probe to Proxima Centauri.
Gamma-Ray Burst (02:55)
La Silla and Paranal astronomers observe a star collapse, emitting gamma radiation. They quickly shift telescopes to gather images and data.
Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (05:03)
The ESO's highest elevation telescope, ALMA observes 1 mm wavelengths. Array antennae and the Correlator supercomputer must withstand extreme weather and atmospheric conditions. ISS astronauts congratulate the project's inauguration. See images of cold Centarus A Galaxy gas clouds.
ALMA Innovations (04:32)
ALMA observes protoplanetary disks, where new planets form around stars. It detects molecular structures, including sugar and methyl alcohol. Learn about the logistics of transporting antennas to the Chajnantor Plateau at 5,000 meters.
Desert Blooms (03:13)
The Atacama Desert resembles the surface of Mars, and is ideal for testing the Rover Vehicle. Learn about environmental conditions and plant species. Flowers blossom with little precipitation.
European Extremely Large Telescope (04:29)
Construction of the E-ELT began in the Cerro Amazonas in 2014. The telescope will weigh 5,000 tons and dwarf existing telescopes. Learn about its design and observational capacity.
Credits: The World's Most Powerful Telescopes (01:28)
Credits: The World's Most Powerful Telescopes
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