Two white dwarfs circle around one other, locked in a fatal tango. With an intimate orbit and a hefty combined mass, the pair is ultimately destined to collide, merge, and erupt in a titanic explosion: a Type Ia supernova. Or so goes the theory behind the infamous “standard candles” of cosmology. Now, in a paper published in today’s issue of […]
At the ESO’s observatories located high in the Atacama Desert of Chile, amazing images of distant objects in the Universe are captured on a regular basis. But in January 2015, ESO photo ambassador Petr Horálek captured some amazing photos of much closer phenomena: red sprites flashing in the atmosphere high above distant thunderstorms. The photo above was captured from […]
Almost all the planet hunting has been done from space. But there’s a new instrument installed on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6 meter telescope called the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher which has already turned up 130 planets. Is this the future? Searching for planets from the ground?
If you’ve ever stood outside after twilight has passed, or a few hours before the sun rises at dawn, then chances are you’ve witnessed the phenomenon known as zodiacal light. This effect, which looks like a faint, diffuse white glow in the night sky, is what happens when sunlight is reflected off of tiny particles […]
Any human being knows the awe-inspiring wonder of a splash of stars against a dark backdrop. But it takes a skilled someone to truly appreciate a distant object viewed through an eyepiece. Your gut tightens as you realize that the tiny fuzzy blob is really thousands of light-years away. That wave of amazement is encouraged […]
Wow. It’s always amazing to get new views of familiar sky targets. And you always know that a “feast for the eyes” is in store when astronomers turn a world-class instrument towards a familiar celestial object. Such an image was released this morning from the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Astronomers turned ESO’s 2.2-metre telescope towards […]
Gaia, ESA’s long-anticipated mission to map the stars of our galaxy (as well as do a slew of other cool science things) is now tucked comfortably in its position in orbit around Earth-Moon L2, a gravitationally stable spot in space 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) away. Once its mission begins in earnest, Gaia will watch about […]