An international team of astronomers using the HAWK-I camera attached to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope captured this stunning deep infrared view of the Orion Nebula in 2016 showing an abundance of brown dwarfs and planetary-mass objects. The famous nebula stretches 24 light years across and even though it is about 1,350 light years from Earth it is easily visible to the unaided eye as the somewhat fuzzy “star” in the middle of Orion’s sword. Amelia Bayo, co-author of a paper discussing the HAWK-I view said “understanding how many low-mass objects are found in the Orion Nebula is very important to constrain current theories of star formation. We now realise that the way these very low-mass objects form depends on their environment.”
Astronomers may have solved the mystery of the peculiar volatile behaviour of a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy known as Markarian 1018 some 590 million light-years away. Combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other observatories suggest that the black hole is no longer being fed enough fuel to make its surroundings shine brightly.
A new record for the most distant galaxy cluster has been set using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. CL J1001+0220 is located about 11.1 billion light-years from Earth. The discovery of this object pushes back the formation time of galaxy clusters — the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity — by about 700 million years.
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.