Apr 16

Unique Fragment from Earth’s Formation Returns after Billions of Years in Cold Storage

Source: ESO Science Release eso1614

eso1614aArtist's impression of the unique rocky comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS).
Image credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Astronomers have found a unique object that appears to be made of inner Solar System material from the time of Earth’s formation, which has been preserved in the Oort Cloud far from the Sun for billions of years. Observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope, and the Canada France Hawai Telescope, show that C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) is the first object to be discovered on a long-period cometary orbit that has the characteristics of a pristine inner Solar System asteroid. It may provide important clues about how the Solar System formed.(Learn more)

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Apr 16

Four Lasers Over Paranal

Source: ESO Organisation Release eso1613

The most powerful laser guide star system in the world sees first light at the Paranal Observatory.
Image credits: ESO/F. Kamphues.

On 26 April 2016 ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile hosted an event to mark the first light for the four powerful lasers that form a crucial part of the adaptive optics systems on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Attendees were treated to a spectacular display of cutting-edge laser technology against the majestic skies of Paranal. These are the most powerful laser guide stars ever used for astronomy and the event marks the first use of multiple laser guide stars at ESO.

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Apr 16

Hubble captures birthday bubble

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1608

heic1608aThe Bubble Nebula.
Image Credits: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team.

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to celebrate Hubble’s 26th year in orbit, captures in stunning clarity what looks like a gigantic cosmic soap bubble. The object, known as the Bubble Nebula, is in fact a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the brilliant star within it. The vivid new portrait of this dramatic scene wins the Bubble Nebula a place in the exclusive Hubble hall of fame, following an impressive lineage of Hubble anniversary images. (learn more)

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Apr 16

Giant black hole found in an unlikely place

Source: ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1607

ann16007aThe elliptical galaxy NGC 1600, 200 million light-years away.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Digital Sky Survey 2

Astronomers have uncovered one of the biggest supermassive black holes, with the mass of 17 billion Suns, in an unlikely place: the centre of a galaxy that lies in a quiet backwater of the Universe. The observations, made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. The results of this study are released in the journal Nature. (learn more)

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Apr 16

Journey to the centre of our galaxy

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1606

heic1606aThe galactic centre.
Image credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, T. Do and A. Ghez (UCLA), and V. Bajaj (STScI)

Peering deep into the heart of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Apart from a few, blue, foreground stars, almost all of the stars pictured in the image are members of the Milky Way nuclear star cluster, the densest and most massive star cluster in the galaxy. Hidden in the centre of this cluster is the Milky Way’s resident supermassive black hole. (learn more)

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