TIME space

SPHERE’s First Image Looks Like The Eye Of Sauron

This infrared image shows the dust ring around the nearby star HR 4796A in the southern constellation of Centaurus and was one of the first produced by the SPHERE instrument in May 2014.
This infrared image shows the dust ring around the nearby star HR 4796A in the southern constellation of Centaurus and was one of the first produced by the SPHERE instrument in May 2014. J-L Beuzit et al.—SPHERE / ESO


A new instrument built to view exoplanets—planets outside our solar system—has captured its first images, including this dust ring around a nearby star. SPHERE, as the instrument is called, has been installed at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. That places it squarely on Earth, but it seems to have offered a frightening peek into Middle-earth.

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