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Beware the “Eye of Sauron” in the night sky

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. MacGregor; NASA/ESA Hubble, P. Kalas; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/23/17

A new image of a distant star is eerily reminiscent of the Dark Lord from Tolkien's fiction.

Recently an international team of astronomers discovered something that would frighten any Lord of the Rings fan. While using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the astronomers captured “the first complete millimeter-wavelength image of the ring of dusty debris surrounding the young star Fomalhaut.” The ring of debris surrounding the star gives the new image the look of an eye that could incite nightmares.

According to CNET, “The orange dot in the center is the deliberately dimmed star, the blue section is what NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope picked up when it observed Fomalhaut directly, and the orange elliptical is the ring of debris ALMA observed, superimposed on the Hubble image to create this creepy composite.”

The star system is relatively close to our own, measuring about 25 light years away, and is also somewhat young, around 440 million years old. The new image is considered a breakthrough in astronomy and provides a clearer image of Fomalhaut than what was previously captured.

Just don’t gaze too long into the image, or you might find in yourself a desire to find the Ring of Power and deliver it to the Dark Lord in Mordor.

Read more:
Listen to rare recordings of J.R.R. Tolkien reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’

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