Meet the telescope behind the Pac-Man photos

According to the memes circling around this weekend, Mecha Pac-Man has a fondness for lunar cheese and starlight, gaping wide to gobble them both. In reality, the telescope behind the Pac-Man photograph is Auxiliary Telescope 2, an essential component of the most productive ground-based telescope on the planet. » 3/11/14 6:08pm 3/11/14 6:08pm

Astronomers may have just discovered the first known free-floating…

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… » 11/14/12 3:30pm 11/14/12 3:30pm

It's Full of Stars: 84 Million Stars of the Milky Way in 9 Billion…

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? » 10/27/12 1:00pm 10/27/12 1:00pm

The Omega Nebula is a galactic Rorschach test

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. » 1/04/12 9:25am 1/04/12 9:25am

This nebula might be home to the universe's hottest star

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. » 1/02/12 10:30am 1/02/12 10:30am

We're about to watch a supermassive black hole devour something for the…

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. » 12/14/11 2:25pm 12/14/11 2:25pm

The Carina Nebula is the birthplace of our galaxy's heaviest stars

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. » 11/16/11 9:30am 11/16/11 9:30am

Faraway gamma-ray burst reveals what the most ancient galaxies were…

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. » 11/03/11 10:24am 11/03/11 10:24am

The faraway star clusters on the other side of the galaxy

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. » 11/01/11 4:20pm 11/01/11 4:20pm

Stare into the eyes of this beautiful, busy nebula

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. » 10/16/11 10:30am 10/16/11 10:30am

Potentially habitable "Super-Earth" is among 50 newly discovered…

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. » 9/12/11 11:19am 9/12/11 11:19am

What makes this strange space blob glow?

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. » 8/29/11 12:41pm 8/29/11 12:41pm

96 new star clusters found hiding in the cosmic dust

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. » 8/03/11 11:18am 8/03/11 11:18am

The short guide to our nearest cosmic neighbors

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. » 7/03/11 12:15pm 7/03/11 12:15pm

This faraway galaxy is the Milky Way's identical twin

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. » 6/01/11 10:49am 6/01/11 10:49am

The constellations come out to play above the Very Large Telescope

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. » 5/15/11 3:00pm 5/15/11 3:00pm

The naked beauty of 6 spiral galaxies

Here are six of the most beautiful galaxies, "stripped bare" by a new camera. The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, paired with the HAWK-l infrared camera, saw past the interstellar dust to show us just the galaxies themselves. » 10/28/10 11:30am 10/28/10 11:30am

A Chilean telescope fires a laser into space to create a virtual star…

The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope is shooting a freakin big laser into space, to create a virtual star to compensate for the Earth's atmospheric interference. » 9/17/10 7:30am 9/17/10 7:30am

First 3-D view of a supernova in progress

Check out this artist's impression of an super-violent supernova. The Very Large Telescope managed to obtain the first 3-D view of material after a star's explosion, traveling 100 million kilometers per hour. And check out a video below. » 8/06/10 7:30am 8/06/10 7:30am

The Sun's Trailing Halo Of Shining Dust, Seen After Sunset

This image isn't a far-off galaxy or comet — it's space dust right in our backyard. You're seeing the zodiacal light, a triangle of glowing space dust between the Earth and the Sun, briefly visible after sunset. » 1/18/10 4:30pm 1/18/10 4:30pm