First light achieved for next-generation planet-hunter

6 December 2017 Astronomy Now

A new planet-seeking instrument installed on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has made its first observations, beginning a search for exoplanets with unprecedented precision by looking at the minuscule changes in the light of their host stars.


Closest temperature world orbiting quiet star discovered

16 November 2017 Astronomy Now

A temperate Earth-sized planet has been discovered only 11 light-years from the Solar System. The new world has the designation Ross 128 b and is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. It is also the closest planet to be discovered orbiting an inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the likelihood that this planet could potentially sustain life.


ALMA discovers cold dust around nearest star

3 November 2017 Astronomy Now

The ALMA Observatory in Chile has detected dust around the closest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri. These new observations reveal the glow coming from cold dust in a region between one to four times as far from Proxima Centauri as the Earth is from the Sun. The data also hint at the presence of an even cooler outer dust belt and may indicate the presence of an elaborate planetary system.

Picture This

Revealing galactic secrets

26 October 2017 Astronomy Now

Countless galaxies vie for attention in this monster image of the Fornax Galaxy Cluster, some appearing only as pinpricks of light while others dominate the foreground.


Best ever image of another star’s surface and atmosphere

26 August 2017 Astronomy Now

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer astronomers have constructed the most detailed image ever of a star — the red supergiant star Antares. They have also made the first map of the velocities of material in the atmosphere of a star other than the Sun, revealing unexpected turbulence in Antares’s huge extended atmosphere.