The Milky Way dazzles above the La Silla Observatory in Chile, framed by the now-deactivated Swedish-European Southern Observatory submillimetre telescope on the left and ESO’s 3.6-metre (11.8-foot) optical telescope on the right. But the Milky Way is the star of the show with the reddish Gum Nebula at the peak of the arc and the Large and Small Magellanic clouds visible just above and to the right of the dish antenna. Brilliant Jupiter shines above and to the left of the 3.6-metre telescope’s dome.
Dark smudges almost block out a rich star field in this new image of the Coalsack Nebula captured by the 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This huge, dusky object forms a conspicuous silhouette against the bright, starry band of the Milky Way and has been known to people in the Southern Hemisphere for as long as our species has existed.
Astronomers have discovered a new type of exotic binary star. In the system AR Scorpii a rapidly spinning white dwarf star powers electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star, and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the ultraviolet to radio.