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The Helix Nebula in the Aquarius constellation, located some 700 light-years away from Earth, was just observed by the piercing infrared gaze of the VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Some have referred to the images as the Eye of Sauron, from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

The international space station.

Supernova 2011fe. Visible now from 21 million light years ago.

Every star twinkling in the night sky plays host to at least one planet, a new study suggests. That implies there are some 10 billion Earth-sized planets in our galaxy. Using a technique called gravitational microlensing, an international team found a handful of exoplanets that imply the existence of billions more. The findings were released at the 219th American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting, alongside reports of the smallest "exoplanets" ever discovered.