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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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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.

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First detection of element lithium from an exploding star

1 August 2015 Astronomy Now

The chemical element lithium is predicted to have been created by the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 show that lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova, helping to explain the mystery of why many young stars seem to have more of this chemical element than expected.

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The hot blue stars of Messier 47

17 December 2014 Astronomy Now

This spectacular image of the brilliant young blue stars and contrasting red giants of open cluster Messier 47 in the southern constellation of Puppis was taken with the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.