New tool will allow the very large Telescope to see even farther

(ORDO NEWS) — The Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in northern Chile is undoubtedly one of the leading ground-based observatories.

But a new infrared instrument recently installed on the telescope has made the VLT even better.

The Enhanced Resolution Thermal Imager and Spectrograph (ERIS) was delivered to Chile in December 2021, and astronomers began making first test observations from February of this year.

The European Southern Hemisphere Astronomical Research Organization (ESO), which coordinates the use of the VLT and several other observatories, said the infrared instrument “will be able to see further and in great detail, leading the way in observations of the solar system, exoplanets and galaxies.”

The first official image published by ERIS confirms this claim. The photo above shows the galaxy NGC 1097.

On the right is an image taken with ERIS, and on the left is an image obtained using the previous NACO instrument.

NGC 1097 is located 45 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Furnace. The ERIS image shows in greater detail the ring of gas and dust at the center of the galaxy.

The bright spots visible in the image in the area of ​​the ring are stellar nurseries.

The ERIS instrument combines the NIX near-infrared camera system and the SPIFFIER spectrograph, which use a laser-assisted adaptive optics system to improve imaging performance.

Adaptive optics corrects the effects of blurring the earth’s atmosphere in real time.

ESO says ERIS will be active for at least ten years and is expected to make a significant contribution to the development of astronomy.

“We do not only expect ERIS to fulfill its main scientific objectives,” said Harald Kunchner, ESO project researcher for ERIS, in a press release.

“But also that, due to its versatility, it will also be used for a wide range of other scientific tasks, which, we hope, will lead to new and unexpected results.”


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