This extraordinary bubble, glowing like the ghost of a star in the haunting darkness of space, may appear supernatural and mysterious, but it is a familiar astronomical object: a planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying star. This is the best view of the little-known object ESO 378-1 yet obtained and was captured by ESO's Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.
A star in the constellation Cassiopeia has a planet in a three-day orbit that transits, or crosses in front of its star. At a distance of just 21 light-years, it is by far the closest transiting planet to Earth, which makes it ideal for follow-up studies. Moreover, it is the nearest rocky planet confirmed outside our solar system.
Components used on a space mission must be cleaned meticulously. Fraunhofer researchers designed a cleanroom for the ESA (European Space Agency) in which the most infinitesimal contaminants can be removed.
Astronomers have created a new map of the Milky Way that provides the first clear evidence of migration of stars throughout our galaxy. The study, which determined that 30 percent of stars have traveled across the galaxy, is bringing a new understanding of how stars are formed and travel throughout the Milky Way.
The merger of two black holes is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. The first observatories capable of directly detecting gravitational waves will begin observing the universe later this year. When these waves rolling in from space are detected on Earth for the first time, astrophysicists predict astronomers will 'hear', through these waves, five times more colliding black holes than previously expected.
Astronomers have long known that powerful cosmic winds can sometimes blow through galaxies, sweeping out interstellar material and stopping future star formation. Now they have a clearer snapshot of how it happens.
NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the 'habitable zone' around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another Earth.
Astronomers have discovered jets of material ejected by still-forming young brown dwarfs. The discovery is the first direct evidence that brown dwarfs, intermediate in mass between stars and planets, are produced by a scaled-down version of the same process that produces stars.
An international team of astronomers led by the University of Cambridge have detected the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early Universe - less than one billion years after the Big Bang. The new observations will allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionisation.