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First signs of weird quantum property of empty space?

30 November 2016 Astronomy Now

By studying the polarisation of light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetised neutron star using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence, first predicted in the 1930s.

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Follow a live Proxima Centauri exoplanet hunt with the Pale Red Dot campaign

15 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Pale Red Dot is an international search for an Earth-like exoplanet around the closest star to us, Proxima Centauri. It will be one of the few outreach campaigns allowing the general public to witness the scientific process of data acquisition in modern observatories via blog posts and social media updates. The Pale Red Dot campaign will run from January to April 2016.

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VLT studies mysterious dwarf galaxy born in cosmic collision

9 December 2015 Astronomy Now

The spectacular aftermath of a 360 million year old cosmic collision is revealed in great detail in new images from ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Among the debris is a rare and mysterious young dwarf galaxy. This galaxy is providing astronomers with an excellent opportunity to learn more about similar galaxies that are expected to be common in the early universe, but are normally too faint and distant to be observed by current telescopes.

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The birth of monsters: VISTA pinpoints earliest giant galaxies

18 November 2015 Astronomy Now

ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared.

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UK scientists seal deal on European Extremely Large Telescope’s first-light spectrograph

23 September 2015 Astronomy Now

UK researchers have just signed an agreement to lead one of the first instruments for what will become the World’s largest visible and infrared telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The spectrograph, called HARMONI, will provide the European Southern Observatory’s telescope with a sensitivity that is up to hundreds of times better than any current telescope of its kind.