Rare “Red Sprites” Seen From ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile

This picture, taken from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows bright red streaks known as red sprites. Credit: Zdenek Bardon/ESO.

This new image taken of the skies above Chile’s Atacama Desert near the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory, shows bright red streaks in the sky known as red sprites. Red sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. However, the red sprites appear high in Earth’s atmosphere, sometimes 50-90 km in altitude.

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New Pics of Phobos From China’s Tianwen-1 Orbiter

Two fundamental factors affect all astrophotography – timing and location. If a camera happens to be at the right place at the right time, it can capture images that have never been seen before. And with the proliferation of cameras throughout the solar system, more and more novel photos will be captured at an ever-increasing frequency. China’s Tianwen-1 probe added to that novel collection to celebrate its second anniversary by taking a shot of Mars’ moon Phobos.

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Here's the Final Shortlist for Astrophotographer of the Year 2022

The starry sky over the world's highest national highway by Yang Sutie - Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2022 People & Space.

We look forward to this every year! The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition showcases and recognizes some of the most stunning views of the night sky and astronomical objects. The shortlisted images from this year’s competition have now been released, and they include awe-inspiring scenes of the Milky Way, colliding galaxies, stellar nurseries, planets, nebula and the always photogenic Moon.

We’re featuring some of our favorites from this year’s competition here. The contest is operated by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in cooperation with Liberty Specialty Markets and in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine. In 2022, the competition received over three thousand entries from passionate amateur and dedicated professional photographers, submitted from sixty-seven countries.

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This is it! Meet the Supermassive Black Hole at the Heart of the Milky Way

This is the first image of Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. It’s the first direct visual evidence of the presence of this black hole. It was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an array which linked together eight existing radio observatories across the planet to form a single “Earth-sized” virtual telescope. The telescope is named after the event horizon, the boundary of the black hole beyond which no light can escape.   Although we cannot see the event horizon itself, because it cannot emit light, glowing gas orbiting around the black hole reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region (called a shadow) surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is four million times more massive than our Sun. The image of the Sgr A* black hole is an average of the different images the EHT Collaboration has extracted from its 2017 observations.  In addition to other facilities, the EHT network of radio observatories that made this image possible includes the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) in the Atacama Desert in Chile, co-owned and co-operated by ESO is a partner on behalf of its member states in Europe.

On April 10th, 2019, the international consortium known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) announced the first-ever image of a supermassive black hole (SMBH). The image showed the bright disk surrounding the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy (aka. Virgo A). In 2021, they followed up on this by acquiring an image of the core region of the Centaurus A galaxy and the radio jet emanating from it. Earlier this month, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that the EHT would be sharing the results from its latest campaign – observations of Sagittarius A*!

This supermassive black hole resides at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, roughly 27,000 light-years from Earth, 44 million km (27.34 million mi) in diameter, and has a mass of 4.31 million Suns. The campaign’s results were shared in an ESO press release and a series of live-streamed press conferences worldwide, including the ESO Headquarters in Munich, Germany. The team’s results (which were shared in six papers) were also published today in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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This Incredible Photo of the Sun is Made up of 150,000 Individual Photographs

A 300 megapixel photo of our Sun, taken by using a specially modified telescope, compiling over 150,000 individual images. Credit and copyright: Andrew McCarthy.

You’re looking at a 300-megapixel photo of our Sun. Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy used a specially modified telescope, taking over 150,000 individual photos and combing them into this magnificent image.

“It took about 10 hours to stack all the data, and another 3-4 hours to get it from a raw stack to the final image,” McCarthy said via email.

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Here’s the View From Sweden During the Recent Solar Storm

Aurora seen in Sweden, October 12, 2021. Credit: All-sky camera, Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF).

Vivid green and purple aurora swirled and danced across the entire night sky in Sweden recently. The nighttime light show was captured by an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden, which is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Weather Service Network.

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A High Resolution, Cross-Eyed Look at the Entire Surface of Mars

Mars global map.

A group of amateur and professional astronomers have collaborated to create what may be the highest resolution global map of Mars ever created with images taken from Earth.

The images were taken with the 1-meter telescope at the Pic-du-Midi observatory in the Pyrenees of France, during several nights in October and November, 2020 when Mars was at opposition, or its closest approach to Earth.

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See a 360 Degree Juno-Eye View of Jupiter During an Io Eclipse

Io Eclipse on Jupiter from Juno Perijove 22 - NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill

Yesterday, we posted some incredible photos from the Juno Probe’s 29th flyby of Jupiter. Juno is in a highly elliptical orbit. It buzzes the planet at an altitude of 4,200km and then sweeps out to 8.1 million. Completing this circuit every 53 days, Juno only spends 2 hours within close proximity to Jupiter reducing the probe’s exposure to harmful radiation of high energy particles accelerated by Jupiter’s magnetic field.

Io Eclipse on Jupiter from Juno Perijove 22 – NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill
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A beautiful picture of Saturn’s heavily-cratered moon Mimas, processed by @kevinmgill

Mimas, as imaged by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and processed by @kevinmgill

The Cassini mission to Saturn took many images of Mimas, one of the smallest moons in the solar system. And now you can view it in all its icy, cratered glory, thanks to the work of Kevin Gill.

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This Is Fascinating. An Image of a Galaxy’s Magnetic Field

There’s always more than one way to look at the world.  There’s also more than one way to look at a galaxy.  And sometimes combining those ways of looking can result in something truly special.

That is what happened recently when a team of astronomers from seven different universities in four different countries used three different telescopes to produce an absolutely spectacular image of a galaxy and its surrounding magnetic field.

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