For over a year, Ceres’ bright spots have dazzled astronomers and the space-loving public alike. The glimmers became a little less mysterious in December, when we learned that they’re essentially giant piles of salt. But now, ground-based observations are adding another fascinating wrinkle to the story.
Night falls in the Atacama Desert, but the day is far from over. In this wonderful little timelapse, sent along to us by the photographer Enrico Sacchetti, we get a sense for the constant work being done at the European Southern Observatory.
You'll notice there's no parent star in this concept art of recently discovered (and unsexily named) CFBDSIRJ2149. That's not a mistake. In fact, it was a very conscious decision on the part of the artist. Because CFBDSIRJ2149 has gone rogue. It's homeless. A wandering planet, it orbits no star — which could well make…
It's impossible to capture the scale of our galaxy on your computer screen, but darned if the European Southern Observatory isn't going to try. The observatory has released a 108500×81500 pixel mosaic of the central parts of the Milky Way. You weren't planning on doing anything else with your weekend, right?
We've showed you the Paranal Observatory's laser-guided telescopes before, but never in gorgeous HD motion, replete with clear stars and deftly swiveling machinery. This is definitely one you're going to want to watch fullscreen.
These stars, though still shrouded in dust and hydrogen gas, are some of the youngest and most massive stars in the galaxy. They're part of the Omega Nebula, which for 200 years has been a sort of cosmic inkblot test.
This is AB7, a binary star system found in one of the nearby Magellanic Cloud galaxies. The two stars are constantly venting massive amounts of stellar material. That process is heating up one of the stars to absolutely unimaginable temperatures.
A massive gas cloud is on a collision course with the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. As this awesome artist's conception shows, it will be torn completely apart. This is our first chance to watch that happen.
If you want to see massive stars being born, look no further than the Carina Nebula, a violent star formation site that specializes in churning out big stars. But look fast...these stars could go supernova at any second, cosmically speaking.
The image up top is an artist's impression of a gamma-ray burst blasting through a pair of galaxies on its billion-year journey to Earth. These ancient, incredibly powerful explosions reveal the composition of early galaxies. It's not what we expected.
That bright explosion of stars on the right is a globular star cluster, one of just 160 such clusters in the galaxy. It's making its big debut after long being hidden behind the dust of the center of the galaxy.
This is NGC 2467, an energetic star-forming region found in the constellation Puppis. This image from the European Southern Observatory captures a gorgeous range of colors and countless stars being born...but I just can't stop staring into the nebula's eyes.
The windswept, sunburned Chajnantor plateau in Chile rises 16,500 feet above sea level and has some of the driest air on Earth. That makes it the perfect location for the world's biggest, most sensitive, and most complex ground-based telescope.
HD 85512 b is a rocky planet about 3.6 times the mass of Earth, located right at the edge of its star's habitable zone. That means it's capable of supporting life... and the early results suggest it's a very real possibility.
That green clump might not be much to look at, but it's one of the rarest sights in the cosmos: a Lyman-alpha blob. They're among the universe's biggest structures, and only now are we starting to understand how they work.
Many stars form in giant groups known as open clusters, which are crucial for the galaxy's development. There should be about 30,000 clusters in the Milky Way, but we've only ever found 2,500. Now, you can raise that number to 2,596.
Located just 4.3 light-years away, the Alpha Centauri star system is our closest neighbor. But theirs is a very different solar system, as it's home with not one, not two, but three stars. Here's the short guide to Alpha Centauri.
Space photography requires a camera—a really big camera. One with 32 CCD sensors that snaps pictures at a mind-bending 268-megapixel resolution. Go ahead, you can call it the OmegaCam.
This is the galaxy NGC 6744, located about 30 million light-years away. It just so happens that this galaxy looks pretty much exactly like what our own galaxy would look like...except this galaxy is twice as big as ours.
These buildings are three of the structures that make up the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, located in Chile's Atacama Desert. In the skies above them are the constellations Orion, Canis Major, and the Southern Cross, among many others.