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A new picture from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a supernova finally giving up its youthful look. First seen from Earth in February 1987, the stellar explosion is now undergoing visible changes that signal it's evolving into a supernova remnant. The brilliant blast came from the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy of our own Milky Way. Dubbed SN 1987A, it was the closest supernova witnessed in almost 400 years. Although light from the object had been fading over time, new observations show that the ring of debris is brightening, which astronomers take as a sign that the supernova is moving into a new phase of existence.
A new addition to ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile, the VST is a 2.6-meter telescope with a huge 268-megapixel camera at its heart. The telescope's extremely wide field of view encompasses even the faint outer regions of the star cluster, allowing astronomers to see about 300,000 stars in one frame.
Seen in a newly released infrared picture, the nebula is a bubble of gas and dust being sculpted by powerful radiation from a very massive central star. Although it's barely a twinkle in infrared, the normally bright, bluish star is emitting rays so strong that they're stripping electrons from surrounding hydrogen atoms, causing the charged gas inside the ring to glow red.
Released Thursday, the image shows dark tendrils of dust weaving through the galactic disk. Hubble's view combines ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths to show how the dense lanes are dotted with young, blue star clusters normally hidden by dust.
Like a solar eclipse, we need to be in just the right place at the right time. Pluto and its large moon Charon occult a star as seen from various Pacific Islands and California/Baja California on June 23. On June 27, Pluto occults a star from many of the same islands, and its small moon Hydra occults the same star as seen from Australia. We are trying to look at Pluto and Charon from about a dozen telescopes, including two portable 14-inch telescopes