These Interstellar Cannons Actually Hunt Exoplanets

By Attila Nagy on at

The European Southern Observatory's new exoplanet-hunting telescopes on Cerro Paranal in northern Chile look absolutely stunning in this long-exposure night-time shot. It shows the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) telescopes during testing.

The Moon appears as the brightest streak among the star trails, while the VISTA and VLT domes can also be seen on the horizon. The ESO explains in more detail what you're looking at:

The NGTS is located at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory. This project will search for transiting exoplanets — planets that pass in front of their parent star and hence produce a slight dimming of the star's light that can be detected by sensitive instruments. The telescopes will focus on discovering Neptune-sized and smaller planets, with diameters between two and eight times that of Earth.

[ESO/G. Lambert]