So many exoplanets may hold water, atmospheres, just-right temperatures and a rocky surface for life to flourish — we just need to know where to look. Once astronomers have pinpointed a good candidate, we also need to know how to look — which instruments and methods might sniff out the right chemical signatures of life. A new trick that essentially amplifies those signatures could be one way to do it. Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory just discovered life on Earth with this method, treating our home as if it were an exoplanet.
We are not at war with an alien race from the center of the Milky Way, but if we were, this is exactly what we would want it to look like. Snapped at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory -- home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array -- the photo depicts the VLT's Laser Guide Star facility in action.
Those of you who thought 3-D had jumped the shark, check this out. Using a new instrument at the Very Large Telescope, astronomers have been able to capture a three-dimensional view of the distribution of the innermost material expelled by a supernova, the European Southern Observatory said today.
The hunt for orbiting exoplanets is in full swing -- NASA recently reported finding five distant orbiting bodies, as well as some other oddities, with its Kepler telescope -- but with so much space between us and these faraway bodies, it's often difficult for researchers to know exactly what they're looking at.