When amateur astronomers turn their telescopes toward Hercules, the usual target is Messier 13, one of the brightest, easiest-to-find globular clusters in the northern sky. But a stone’s throw away is another bright companion – M92 – that runs a close second, containing some 330,000 stars orbiting the Milky Way’s core at a distance of 33,000 light years. Visible to the unaided eye under dark sky conditions, M92 was discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1777. Four years later, Charles Messier spotted it and added the cluster to his famous catalogue. Neither man could have imagined the splendour revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope as seen in this stunning view.
This new Hubble image shows Messier 96 (M96 or NGC 3368), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Leo that lies about 35 million light-years away. About the same mass and size as the Milky Way, M96 resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust along asymmetric arms that swirl inwards towards the nucleus.
Super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe) are a relatively new and rare class of stellar explosions, 10 to 100 times brighter than normal supernovae. According to a new model, researchers have found that highly magnetised, rapidly spinning neutron stars called magnetars could explain the energy source behind SLSNe.
For the first time astronomers were able to analyse the atmosphere of a super-Earth exoplanet. Using data gathered with the Hubble Space Telescope and new analysis techniques, the exoplanet 55 Cancri e some 40 light-years away is revealed to have an atmosphere consists mainly of hydrogen and helium without any indications of water vapour.