Yepun's beam creates an artificial star 56 miles (90 kilometers) up in Earth's atmosphere. The so called Laser Guide Star helps astronomers correct for the atmosphere's blurring effect as the telescope images the sky.
By aiming the laser toward the Milky Way's center, researchers can better monitor the galactic core where a central supermassive black hole—surrounded by closely orbiting stars—is swallowing gas and dust, according to the ESO website.
A glittering pink ring near supernova 1987A (above, in an image released September 2) is actually remnants of a galactic shock wave captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The star explosion unleashed material that slammed into regions near the ring, heating them and causing the telltale glow. About a light-year across, the ring material itself was likely shed by the star about 20,000 years before it went supernova, according to HubbleSite.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera has spotted the first known natural bridge on the moon, given away by light passing through the bridge's archway (seen as a crescent of light on the left pit, in a picture released September 7).
On Earth natural bridges are the results of wind and water eroding away rock. But on the moon such geologic features usually occur following collapses of lava tubes, which formed long ago in the moon's history.