VLT

  • A star that shined with 2.5 million times the light of our Sun has disappeared from the night sky. It is possible that the star collapsed into a black hole without first triggering a supernova – a rare event, even in the context of dying stars.
  • In 2006, Pluto was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet – and now, based on the same definition an object in the asteroid belt may need to be upgraded from asteroid to dwarf planet. New observations of asteroid Hygiea suggest it fits the criteria.
  • A few months ago, the asteroid 2006 QV89 grabbed headlines thanks to a slim chance of striking Earth this September. But now the potentially-hazardous space rock has missed its appointment. ESA has confirmed that the asteroid hasn’t appeared in the sky yet, ruling out an impact any time soon.
  • Scientists have been unable to figure out what fast radio bursts are or where they’re even coming from. Now, a team of astronomers has finally managed to trace one of the signals back to its home galaxy billions of light-years away, meaning we’re closing in on the culprit.
  • Saturn sports an impressive ring system, but Uranus also has some, although they’re usually too faint to see without a powerful telescope. Striking new images shows these rings in very clear detail thanks to thermal imaging, allowing astronomers to measure their temperature for the first time.
  • The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured a beautiful image of the planetary nebula ESO 577-24. The ionized mass of gas and dust is only expected to be visible for another 10,000 years – no time at all from a cosmic perspective – before fading from view.
  • ​Astronomers have gazed into the gaping mouth of NGC 2467, also known as the Skull and Crossbones Nebula. The image reveals a cosmic vista populated by young stars and churning clouds of colorful cosmic dust and gas.
  • Astronomers have discovered and mapped an enormous structure in the early universe with a mass the equivalent to one million billion times that of the Sun. The proto-supercluster, which has been named Hyperion after the Titan of Greek mythology, formed when the cosmos was only 2.3 billion years old.
  • ​Astronomers have captured a striking view of the galaxy NGC 3981, which is revealed shining with the light of energetic stars, surrounded by its ghostly spiral arms. Located roughly 65 million light-years from Earth, it appears to have been disrupted by a close call with a neighboring galaxy.
  • Astronomers at the Paranal Observatory in Chile have achieved first light with a cutting-edge adaptive optics mode for the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), designed to remove interference caused by Earth’s atmosphere.
  • ESO has released the most detailed view to date of the ominous Lupus 3 dark nebula, one of the closest star formation regions to our Sun. Lupus 3 is located roughly 600 light-years from Earth, and is known to host a population of young stellar bodies and protostars.
  • An international team of astronomers has successfully imaged the surface of the geriatric star π1 Gruis, revealing enormous convection cells that cycle material between the interior and surface of the star – essentially acting as a massive stellar lava lamp.