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Telescopes, including Hubble, have monitored the Eta Carinae star system for more than two decades. It has been prone to violent outbursts, including an episode in the 1840s during which ejected material formed the bipolar bubbles seen here. Now, using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to probe the nebula in ultraviolet light, astronomers have uncovered the glow of magnesium embedded in warm gas (shown in blue) in places they had not seen it before. The luminous magnesium resides in the space between the dusty bipolar bubbles and the outer shock-heated nitrogen-rich filaments (shown in red). The streaks visible in the blue region outside the lower-left lobe are a striking feature of the image. These streaks are created when the star’s light rays poke through the dust clumps scattered along the bubble’s surface. Wherever the ultraviolet light strikes the dense dust, it leaves a long, thin shadow that extends beyond the lobe into the surrounding gas. Eta Carinae resides 7500 light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona, Tucson), and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute, New York)

Hubble Captures Cosmic Fireworks in Ultraviolet

Hubble offers a special view of the double star system Eta Carinae’s expanding gases glowing in red, white, and blue. This is the highest...
The unique capabilities of the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope have enabled it to obtain the sharpest images of a double asteroid as it flew by Earth on 25 May. While this double asteroid was not itself a threatening object, scientists used the opportunity to rehearse the response to a hazardous Near-Earth Object (NEO), proving that ESO’s front-line technology could be critical in planetary defence. The left-hand image shows SPHERE observations of Asteroid 1999 KW4. The angular resolution in this image is equivalent to picking out a single building in New York — from Paris. An artist's impression of the asteroid pair is shown on the right. Credit: ESO

ESO contributes to protecting Earth from dangerous asteroids

The unique capabilities of the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope have enabled it to obtain the sharpest images of a double asteroid...
This image, a composite of several observations captured by ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST), shows the space observatory Gaia as a faint trail of dots across the lower half of the star-filled field of view. These observations were taken as part of an ongoing collaborative effort to measure Gaia’s orbit and improve the accuracy of its unprecedented star map. Credit: ESO

Pinpointing Gaia to Map the Milky Way

Gaia, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), surveys the sky from orbit to create the largest, most precise, three-dimensional map of our Galaxy....
Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. This long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons, and gravity. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Historic first real image of black hole has been unveiled

The European Southern Observatory announced earlier this week that they have some big news to share. The international collaboration, Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project,...
This artist’s impression shows the observed exoplanet, which goes by the name HR8799e. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

GRAVITY instrument breaks new ground in exoplanet imaging

GRAVITY, a second generation instrument on the ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) used optical interferometry and observed an exoplanet named HR8799e with clouds...
Hidden in one of the darkest corners of the Orion constellation, this Cosmic Bat is spreading its hazy wings through interstellar space two thousand light-years away. It is illuminated by the young stars nestled in its core — despite being shrouded by opaque clouds of dust, their bright rays still illuminate the nebula. Too dim to be discerned by the naked eye, NGC 1788 reveals its soft colours to ESO's Very Large Telescope in this image — the most detailed to date. Credit: ESO

A Cosmic Bat in Flight

ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has caught a glimpse of an ethereal nebula hidden away in the darkest corners of the constellation of Orion...
This artist’s impression shows the outermost planet of the Solar System, Neptune, and its small moon Hippocamp. Hippocamp was discovered in images taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Whilst the images taken with Hubble allowed astronomers to discover the moon and also to measure its diameter, about 34 kilometres, these images do not allow us to see surface structures.

Hubble helps uncover origin of Neptune’s smallest moon Hippocamp

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, along with older data from the Voyager 2 probe, have revealed more about the origin of Neptune’s...
Deep within the glowing cloud of the HII region LHA 120-N 180B, MUSE has spotted a jet emitted by a fledgling star — a massive young stellar object . This is the first time such a jet has been observed in visible light outside the Milky Way. Usually, such jets are obscured by their dusty surroundings, meaning they can only be detected at infrared or radio wavelengths by telescopes such as ALMA. However, the relatively dust-free environment of the LMC allowed this jet — named Herbig–Haro 1177, or HH 1177 for short — to be observed at visible wavelengths. At nearly 33 light-years in length, it is one of the longest such jets ever observed. This annotated image shows a close-up of the jet source and the bow shocks formed by the jet interacting with surrounding gas. Credit: ESO, A McLeod et al.

Bubbles of brand new stars

This dazzling region of newly-forming stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was captured by the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument (MUSE) on ESO’s...
The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for only a short time  — around 10,000 years, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured this shell of glowing ionised gas — the last breath of the dying star whose simmering remains are visible at the heart of this image. As the gaseous shell of this planetary nebula expands and grows dimmer, it will slowly disappear from sight. This stunning planetary nebula was imaged by one of the VLT’s most versatile instruments, FORS2. The instrument captured the bright, central star, Abell 36, as well as the surrounding planetary nebula. The red and blue portions of this image correspond to optical emission at red and blue wavelengths, respectively. An object much closer to home is also visible in this image — an asteroid wandering across the field of view has left a faint track below and to the left of the central star. And in the far distance behind the nebula a glittering host of background galaxies can be seen.

A Fleeting Moment in Time

The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for only a short time — around 10,000 years, a blink of...