Europeaan Space Orgazization photographers captured this spectacular image of ESO’s Chile-based Very Large Telescope (VLT) during the testing of a new laser for the VLT 14 February 2013. It will be used as a vital part of the Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF), which allows astronomers to correct for most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of the atmosphere in order to create much sharper images. It's not a leap to think of it as a futuristic laser cannon being pointed towards some kind of distant space invader.
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is the flagship for European ground-based astronomy made up of four separate optical telescopes organized in an array formation, built and operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at the Paranal Observatory on Cerro Paranal, a 2,635 m high mountain in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
The VLT has stimulated a new age of discoveries, with several notable scientific firsts, including the first image of an exoplanet, tracking individual stars moving around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and observing the afterglow of the furthest known gamma-ray burst.
The Daily Galaxy via ESO
Image credit: G.Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com)/ESO