NGC 2467 seen by FORS2 (Image ESO)

ESO has published a photo of the nebula NGC 2467, also known as the Skull Nebula, taken using the FORS2 instrument mounted on the VLT in Chile. It’s a stellar nursery as it contains a lot of gas that’s still forming a number of new stars and consequently sees a predominance of young, often massive, stars. The photo was taken as part of ESO’s Cosmic Gems programme, which has also an educational purpose.

The Hyperion proto-supercluster (Image ESO/L. Calçada & Olga Cucciati et al.)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes the discovery of a huge galaxy proto-supercluster with a mass close to that of the largest existing structures in the recent universe. A team led by Olga Cucciati of the Italian Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna discovered it thanks to the data collected by the VUDS (VIMOSUltra-Deep Survey) project and named it Hyperion after the titan because it’s really titanic. the researchers estimated that this structure dates back about 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang, the largest and most massive discovered dating back to such a remote era with a mass estimated at over a million billion times the Sun’s.

The sky around NGC 5018

An article accepted for publication in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes the VST Early-type GAlaxy Survey (VEGAS). A team of researchers led by Marilena Spavone from INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte in Naples, Italy, used ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile to obtain highly detailed images of many elliptical galaxies. Among them there’s NGC 5018, interesting among other things for structures such as what’s called a tidal tail, a stream of gas containing various stars stretching outwards from that galaxy. These are evidence of interactions between galaxies that provide information on the characteristics of primordial galaxies.

Artist's impression of Sagittarius A* and S2

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes a verification of a phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Scientists from the GRAVITY collaboration used observations conducted with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile to observe the effects of the motion of a star called S2 as it passes through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

The PDS 70 system (Image ESO/A. Müller et al.)

Two articles to be published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describe the discovery and characterization of a planet still in its formation phase orbiting the young star PDS 70. Two teams of astronomers used the SPHERE instrument installed on ESO’s VLT to obtain for the first time images of a planet while it’s forming in what is still more or less a disk of gas and dust around the star. Called PDS 70b, the planet is a gas giant that could be larger than expected for its age.