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Eta Carinae star system revealed in unprecedented detail

19 October 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer to image the Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved. They found new and unexpected structures within the binary system, including in the area between the two stars where extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding.

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VLTI’s sharpest view ever of dusty disc around ageing star

9 March 2016 Astronomy Now

The Very Large Telescope Interferometer at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has obtained the sharpest view ever of the dusty disc around an ageing star. For the first time such features can be compared to those around young stars — and they look surprisingly similar. It is even possible that a disc appearing at the end of a star’s life might also create a second generation of planets.

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First light for future black hole probe

13 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed GRAVITY instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight using all four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes. The first observations using GRAVITY with the four 8-metre VLT Unit Telescopes are planned for later in 2016.

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Astronomers peer into the ‘amniotic sac’ of a planet-hosting star

14 September 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers have successfully peered through the ‘amniotic sac’ of an embryonic star to observe the innermost region of a burgeoning solar system for the first time. The magnitude +6.8 star, which is called HD 100546 or KR Muscae, lies 325 light-years away in the far southern constellation Musca.