Stellar whirlpool over the Inter-American Observatory (photo)

The image presented was taken in Chile. It demonstrates the “stellar whirlpool” over the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Source: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/B. Tafreshi

The “whirlpool” captured in the picture consists of many circles, each of which represents a star track. They are formed as a result of the visible movement of stars in the sky around the pole point, which is explained by the fact that the Earth rotates around its axis. To obtain this effect, astronomers use long-exposure photography (usually on the order of several hours).

The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory is located on the territory of the Chilean Atacama Desert – one of the best places on Earth for astronomical observations. Its most powerful instrument is the 4-meter Victor Blanco Telescope. In the period from 1976 to 1998, it was the largest optical observatory in the Southern Hemisphere. But even after the commissioning of more advanced telescopes, it still continues to play an important role in astronomical research. In particular, the famous Dark Energy Camera is installed on it.

Earlier we published a picture of “red sprites” over the Atacama Desert.

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