A new picture of a gassy disk around a young star suggests that unseen planets may be forming about 456 light-years away. The near-infrared image of the star SAO 206462 was captured by the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.
Previous models had suggested that a single embedded planet would produce a spiral arm on each side of such a disk. But the arms around SAO 206462 aren't exactly matched, hinting at the presence of two newborn worlds, one for each arm.
Image courtesy NAOJ/Subaru
Stars streaking across the sky are reflected in one of the two MAGIC telescopes on the island of La Palma in a new long-exposure picture. The MAGIC—or Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov—telescopes sit at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in Spain's Canary Islands.
The telescopes are designed to detect gamma rays, the most energetic form of light. When gamma rays hit Earth's upper atmosphere, they produce showers of particles that result in brief flashes of visible light, called Cherenkov light. Recording this light allows astronomers to trace the gamma rays back to their cosmic sources.
Looking like tendrils of smoke, dark dust devil tracks curl across the surface of Mars in a new colorized picture from the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Normally, suction created by the whirlwinds removes a thin layer of light-colored dust from the Martian surface as the devils move, leaving behind dark lines. But on closer inspection, one devil's path in this frame appears oddly bright at one end.
It's possible the dust devil dropped light-toned material as it petered out, NASA says. Or it could be that the underlying dune is brighter in this spot than the dust on top of it.
Image courtesy U. Arizona/NASA
A neon green aurora is reflected in the waters off Yellowknife, Canada, in a newly released picture.
Although best seen in clear, dark skies, auroras are products of the sun: When charged solar particles hit Earth's atmosphere, they infuse air molecules with extra energy, which then gets released as light.
A newly released picture may be the best view yet of one of the Hubble Space Telescope's oldest friends: supernova 1987A. The telescope has been studying this supernova since the observatory launched in 1990, allowing astronomers to watch the evolution of a stellar corpse for decades.
The latest image, retrieved from Hubble's data archive, clearly shows the unusual, dumbbell-shaped structure in the center of the expanding ring of glowing gas, as well as the thin outer loops that seem to curl around two bright nearby stars.
A rocky planet takes a hit from a comet in an artist's impression of what could be going on around the nearby star Eta Corvi.
This week scientists released data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope showing a band of dust around the bright star that strongly matches the contents-such as water ice, organics, and rock-of a comet busted apart in a collision.
The team suggests that the Eta Corvi system is experiencing a comet storm akin to our solar system's Late Heavy Bombardment, and it's possible the dust is being generated as comets smash into planetary bodies.
It might look brilliant in this picture, but the globular star cluster known as UKS 1 was the dimmest known object of its kind—until now. Two even fainter globular clusters have been discovered in the Milky Way, bringing the total number of known clusters in our galaxy to 160.
Globular clusters are nearly spherical groups of hundreds of thousands of stars bound by gravity. The stars in these clusters are among the oldest in the galaxy.
Astronomers with the European Southern Observatory are using the VISTA telescope in Chile to study the central region of the Milky Way in infrared and search for new populations of space objects. The two newfound clusters represent early discoveries in the international survey project.
Image courtesy D. Minniti, VVV/ESO
Wheel of Time
Telescopes in Chile's Atacama Desert seem to mimic the spin of stars overhead in a new long-exposure composite picture taken at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) array.
The image combines 450 exposures of 20 seconds each to capture the apparent stellar movement over two and a half hours. The frame also captures ESO's 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes as they move around to observe different cosmic targets.