ESO

Artist's concept of the HR 6819 system

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” reports the discovery of a black hole in a triple system known as HR 6819. A team of researchers led by ESO’s Thomas Rivinius used the FEROS spectrograph on the MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla to examine that system in a study on binary systems, surprisingly discovering the presence of a third object identified as a black hole. It’s the closest black hole to the solar system, but according to the researchers it could be the tip of the iceberg, and there could be many others like that, as predicted by theoretical models.

Artist's concept of iron rain on the exoplanet WASP-76b (Image ESO/M. Kornmesser)

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports a study on the conditions existing on the exoplanet WASP-76b, an ultra-hot Jupiter where on the side illuminated by its star it’s so hot that metals vaporize and then condense on the dark side, where it rains iron. A team of researchers led by David Ehrenreich of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, used the ESPRESSO instrument mounted on the VLT in Chile to study the processes underway in the atmosphere of WASP-76b with the winds that carry the iron vapor across this gas giant.

NGC 2264 seen by Spitzer (Image Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/P.S. Teixeira (Center for Astrophysics))

NASA’s Spitzer space telescope captured a new image of the so-called Christmas Tree Cluster, so nicknamed for its shape. That appearance is enhanced by a remarkable star formation with the consequent presence of protostars that emit a light that appears pink or red to Spitzer that gives the area an effect similar to the Christmas tree’s balls. It’s part of a set of objects collectively known as NGC 2264 which also includes the Snowflake Cluster, the Cone Nebula and the Fox Fur Nebula.

Possible moons in formation around the exoplanet PDS 70 c

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the observation of what is interpreted as a circumplanetary disk in the system of the young star PDS 70. A team of researchers led by Andrea Isella of Rice University in Houston, Texas, used the ALMA radio telescope to detect the emissions of that disk that surrounds the exoplanet PDS 70 c and according to the astronomers is of the type that controls the formation of planets and of a system of moons such as those around the planet Jupiter.

The asteroid 1999 KW4 photographed by the SPHERE instrument

ESO has published photos of the asteroid 1999 KW4 taken using the SPHERE instrument mounted on the VLT in Chile. This is part of a campaign of observations coordinated by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), which followed the UN recommendations to set up the control of potentially dangerous asteroids. 1999 KW4 passed 5.2 million kilometers from the Earth on May 25, 2019, an absolutely safe distance but it was a good opportunity to assess the possibility of keeping an eye on the trajectory of what’s actually a double asteroid even using an instrument designed to photograph exoplanets.