News

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.

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Exoplanet hunter sees first light at La Silla Observatory

19 July 2017 Astronomy Now

The MASCARA station at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has achieved first light. This new facility will seek out transiting exoplanets as they pass in front of their bright parent stars and create a catalogue of targets for future exoplanet characterisation observations.

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A young star’s moment in the spotlight

10 February 2016 Astronomy Now

A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the young T-tauri star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the reflection nebula IC 2631.

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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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Zooming into the Coalsack Nebula

14 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Dark smudges almost block out a rich star field in this new image of the Coalsack Nebula captured by the 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This huge, dusky object forms a conspicuous silhouette against the bright, starry band of the Milky Way and has been known to people in the Southern Hemisphere for as long as our species has existed.

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Messier 17 in Sagittarius: a cosmic rose with many names

24 September 2015 Astronomy Now

This new image of the rose-coloured star forming region Messier 17 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is one of the sharpest images showing the entire nebula and not only reveals its full size, but also retains fine detail throughout the cosmic landscape of gas clouds, dust and newborn stars.

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Cosmic recycling in the Prawn Nebula

2 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Dominating this image is the so-called Prawn Nebula, part of the gigantic nebula Gum 56, some 6,000 light-years away in Scorpius. For millions of years stars have been born out of the nebula’s gas, material which is later returned to the stellar nursery when the aging stars either expel their material gently into space, or eject it more dramatically in supernova explosions.