Intense ultraviolet radiation from newly formed stars can ionise surrounding hydrogen gas, stripping away electrons and causing the gas to emit a faint pinkish glow. The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, using the FORS instrument, captured that glow in an emission nebula known Gum 26, a star-forming region some 20,000 light years away in the southern constellation Vela. By catching such stars “pink handed,” ESO says in a statement, astronomers can learn more about the conditions in which stars form and how such stellar nurseries influence their environments. This image of Gum 26 was captured as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems programme to produce images of especially captivating objects for education and public outreach.
Back in October 2012, the near-Earth asteroid 2012 TC4 had a close encounter with Earth. It passed our planet at a distance only a quarter of that between the Earth and the Moon. In October 2017, this small asteroid, with a size of only about 15 to 30 metres, will return for another very close fly-by, making it the perfect object to test the asteroid detection and tracking network.