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.
Three teams of astronomers have made use of SPHERE, an advanced exoplanet-hunting instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, in order to shed light on the enigmatic evolution of fledgling planetary systems. The explosion in the number of known exoplanets in recent years has made the study of them one of the most dynamic fields in modern astronomy.
Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, an international team of astronomers have found the hottest and most massive double star with components so close that they touch each other. The two stars in the extreme system VFTS 352 could be heading for a dramatic end, during which the two stars either coalesce to create a single giant star, or form a binary black hole.