VLT Spots Largest Yellow Hypergiant Star — Mix of new and old observations reveals exotic binary system
ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has revealed the largest yellow star — and one of the ten largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over sixty years, some from amateur observers, also indicate that this rare and remarkable object is changing very rapidly and has been caught during a very brief phase of its life.
Crashing Comets Explain Surprise Gas Clump Around Young Star — ALMA reveals an enigmatic gas clump in debris disc around Beta Pictoris
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile have today announced the discovery of an unexpected clump of carbon monoxide gas in the dusty disc around the star Beta Pictoris. This is a surprise, as such gas is expected to be rapidly destroyed by starlight. Something — probably frequent collisions between small, icy objects such as comets — must be causing the gas to be continuously replenished. The new results are published today in the journal Science.
A new innovative instrument called MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) has been successfully installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. MUSE has observed distant galaxies, bright stars and other test targets during the first period of very successful observations.
A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky — making it an important astronomical research target.
ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities. As well as revealing secrets about the asteroid’s formation, finding out what lies below the surface of asteroids may also shed light on what happens when bodies collide in the Solar System, and provide clues about how planets form.
Contacts and Bio
Dr. Tanya Hill
Melbourne Planetarium, Scienceworks
GPO Box 666,
Melbourne 3001, Victoria, Australia
Public Phone Number: +61 400 130 675
Dr Tanya Hill has been the Astronomer for the Melbourne Planetarium since it opened at Scienceworks in 1999. She holds a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Sydney, where she searched for supermassive black holes within a sample of 25 galaxies. For her research, she has used a range of Australian telescopes including the Anglo-Australian Telescope, the Australia Telescope Compact Array, the Parkes Radio Telescope, and NASA’s Tidbinbilla Radio Telescope located in the ACT. While studying for her PhD, Tanya also worked as a Guide Lecturer at Sydney Observatory, which ignited her passion for science communication. She has produced more than a dozen planetarium shows and Melbourne Planetarium productions can now be seen across 15 countries around the world. One of her favourites is Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown which draws together research from her postgraduate studies to bring to life all that is fascinating and extreme in the world black holes.
Dr. Mita Brierley
Project Officer, Astronomy Australia Limited
P.O. Box 2100,
Hawthorn, VIC 3122,
Mita Brierley is based in Melbourne, Australia and works for Astronomy Australia Ltd (AAL) as their Project Officer. AAL is a not-for-profit company that aims to provide Australian astronomers with access to world-class national and international astronomy research infrastructure.
Mita holds a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where her research focused on determining global properties of extra-galactic globular clusters, which can be used as tracers for galactic evolution. Mita has been interested in astronomy and astronomy outreach from a very young age. Her first job during high-school was as a planetarium presenter and telescope operator at the Carter Observatory in Wellington, New Zealand. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate years, she was heavily involved in a wide range of outreach activities: from running public telescope-viewing sessions, to giving talks and running activity sessions at primary and secondary schools, to presenting public lectures to general audiences. After completing her PhD, she continued at the University of Canterbury as a lecturer in undergraduate physics and astronomy until her move to Australia in 2011.
About the ESO Science Outreach Network
The ESO education and Public Outreach Department has established a network of contacts in the ESO Member states and other countries. The goal of this ESO Science Outreach Network (ESON) is to act locally as ESO's media and outreach representative, in order to promote ESO's mission and achievements, and demonstrate the many inspirational aspects of astronomy.
More information about ESON is available on: ESO Science Outreach Network