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Space

The international movement working to preserve the night's dark skies

An international movement working to preserve our dark night skies has released an interactive map of sites that everyone can visit. The International Dark-Sky Association's accredited "Dark Sky Places" provide visitors with the sparkling views of the night sky that our recent ancestors enjoyed as a matter of course. The parks are about more than just providing a place for astronomers and the public to look at the stars. They're also there to raise awareness of the problems that light pollution poses for the environment and even to human health.Read More

Space

ESO's VISTA telescope spies hidden Milky Way component

An international team of astronomers has discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way – a thin disk of variable stars hidden in the galactic bulge. The observations, made using the ESO's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) telescope conflict with current theories regarding the composition of the center of our galaxy.Read More

Space

Astronomers spot enormous twin stars heading for a cataclysmic end

Using the ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered a pair of enormous stars, known as an overcontact binary system, that orbit so close to each other that a bridge of stellar material has formed. Scientists predict that at some point, the strange partnership will end in spectacular fashion, with the stellar bodies either merging to create a single titanic star, or in a violent supernova, that would birth a binary black hole system.Read More

Space

Unexplained ripples streaking away from neighboring star could hold clues to planet formation

Astronomers have been left puzzled after images from the ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile revealed mysterious wave-shaped structures around a nearby star, the likes of which have never been seen before. The features were observed in the disc of dust surrounding the young star AU Microscopii (AU Mic), and could lead to a new understanding of how planets form inside such discs. Read More

Space

Study lends support to prevailing model of Milky Way structure

Results from a new technique designed to map the structure of the Milky Way appear to support the four spiral arm model of our galaxy. A team of researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, used data collected by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft to pinpoint star clusters located in the resource rich environment of the spiral arms, and use them as markers to trace the structure of our galaxy.Read More

Space

Brown dwarf aurora may help characterize distant exoplanets

The discovery of a powerful aurora surrounding a distant failed star may in future aid astronomers in their hunt for habitable planets. The aurora is the first to be discovered around a brown dwarf, known as LSRJ 1835+3259 (LSRJ). It's a type of star that shares many characteristics with known exoplanets, and the technique used to observe the phenomenon could one day be a factor in determining whether a planet could sustain life.Read More

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