Astronomy buffs know that the European Southern Observatory ESO , a conglomerate of 15 European countries that operates three observing sites in Chile, is a font of awesome space images. What they may not know is that some of the ESO's best images are buried in its extensive data archives. Terabytes of raw data gathered by the observatory's world-class instruments dwell in its digital vaults, waiting for image-processing experts to pluck them from anonymity and transform them into gorgeous, full-color pictures. Amateur enthusiasts were to select data from the archives and process their own stunning, scientifically accurate images. This image of the nebula Messier 78, submitted by Igor Chekalin of Taganrog, Russia, took first place in the competition. I mean not only winning, but working with perfect raw data from large professional instruments with modern high-resolution mosaic CCD [charge-coupled device] cameras," says Chekalin , a programmer and IT specialist by day.
Spectacular Orion Nebula Photo Brings Star Birth to Life
Amateur Astronomer Contest Reveals Universe's Beauty | Space
At a distance of about 1, light years, the Orion Nebula is one of the closest star formation regions to Earth. This makes Orion — a favorite for amateur astronomers and casual sky watchers — an excellent location to study how stars are born and behave during their stellar childhoods. The bright point-like sources blue and orange in this image are the newly formed stars captured in X-ray light by a long series of Chandra observations. These nearly continuous observations, lasting almost 13 days, allowed astronomers to monitor the activity of Sun-like stars between 1 and 10 million years old. The fledgling stars were seen to flare in their X-ray intensity much more than our Sun does today. This suggests our Sun had many violent and energetic outbursts when it was much younger.
Amateur Astronomer Contest Reveals Universe's Beauty
A cosmic photo contest has given amateur astronomers the chance to draw out the hidden beauty of the universe and the results are spectacular. Last week, the European Southern Observatory announced the winners of its Hidden Treasures astrophotography contest. The competition invited amateur astronomers to dig through ESO's vast archives and transform raw, gray-scale telescope observations into gorgeous full-color images of space.
The Bristlecone pines that you see in the foreground are some of the oldest living things on Earth, but yet they are dwarfed by the light shining behind them that has been traveling for almost 30, years. It is just a beautiful concept. We also added two new categories: People and Space and Best Newcomer.