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Blowing bubbles – Wolf-Rayet stars put on dramatic show

15 June 2018 Astronomy Now

Energetic Wolf-Rayet stars near the end of their lives produce fast-moving stellar winds that can interact with the surrounding interstellar medium to generate spectacular bubbles in space. They rarely emit X-rays, but ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope caught one in the act.

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Hubble gives astronomers ringside seat for galaxy merger

2 June 2018 Astronomy Now

Two colliding galaxies 100 million light years away give astronomers a ringside seat to witness bursts of star formation as vast clouds of gas and dust interact, triggering the creation of thousands of star clusters surrounding two galactic cores that are slowly merging.

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ESO captures stunning view of the vast Tarantula Nebula

30 May 2018 Astronomy Now

The spectacular Tarantula Nebula, a vast stellar nursery- and graveyard – in the Large Magellanic Cloud takes center stage in a stunning image captured by the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope, a starscape riddled with clusters, nebulae and supernova remnants.

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Peering into the shrouded heart of a luminous Seyfert galaxy

29 May 2018 Astronomy Now

Seyfert galaxies are unusually luminous, powered by supermassive black holes feeding on galactic dust and debris. It is difficult to peer into the dust-shrouded cores of such galaxies, but the European Southern Observatory, combining radio and optical observations, provides an intriguing glimpse.

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A final postcard from a venerable instrument

25 May 2018 Astronomy Now

Before it was decommissioned, the European Southern Observatory’s Visible Multi-Object Spectrograph captured this stunning view of two gravitationally interacting galaxies 110 million light years away. Over its 16-year career, VIMOS captured tens of thousands of galactic spectra, shedding light on how massive galaxies form and evolve.