Press Releases


Two of our scientists honoured by the Royal Academy of Belgium

On Saturday 16 December 2023, the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium awarded two of its prizes to Dr Orkun Temel and Dr Thibault Merle, two scientists working at the Royal Observatory of Belgium.

Orkun Temel, under FWO contract, has won the 2023 annual Academy Competition – Group II – Astronomy-Physics by answering their request for ‘an original contribution, experimental or theoretical, on exoplanets and their habitability.
Thibault Merle, under FED-tWIN contract, has been awarded the 2023 Paul and Marie Stroobant Prize for his discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy in 2022, of a quadruple star system whose future evolution could give rise to a supernova.


Lees de volledige persmededeling <klik hier>
Read the full press release <click here>
Lisez le communiqué de presse <appuyez ici>



Building the most detailed 3D map of the Milky Way: Belgian astronomers contribute to the Gaia Focused Product Releases

Today the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Gaia collaboration teams are publishing new data in the form of five Focused Product Releases. The results are very promising, making of this delivery a first teaser of what will be the fourth version of the Gaia catalogue (Gaia DR4), expected by the end of 2025.

De Gaia-satelliet brengt sinds 2014 de hemel in kaart met daarop sterren die een miljoen keer zwakker zijn dan zichtbaar met het blote oog. De derde versie van deze meest volledige en gedetailleerde sterrencatalogus (Gaia DR3), die in juni 2022 werd gepubliceerd, vormt een mijlpaal voor astrofysisch onderzoek. Gaia’s uitzonderlijk nauwkeurige afstanden, beweging in de ruimte, en fundamentele parameters van sterren, evenals de classificatie van quasars en de nauwkeurige astrometrie van asteroïden maken nu deel uit van het dagelijkse werk en wetenschappelijk onderzoek van de meeste astronomen.

Lees de volledige persmededeling <klik hier>
Read the full press release <click here>
Lisez le communiqué de presse <appuyez ici>


Artist’s view of the Gaia satellite in front of the Milky Way. Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab – ESO/S. Brunier.




James Webb Space Telescope -  Imaging of the "Ring Nebula"  in Lyra


Dr. Griet Van de Steene and Dr. Peter van Hoof, both working at the A&A department at ROB, are part of the "ESSENcE" team (Evolved StarS and their Nebulae in the JWST Era). This is an international group of experts studying planetary nebulae and related objects. They obtained JWST observations to study this famous planetary nebula in Lyra.

The Ring Nebula is an ideal target to unravel some of the mysteries of planetary nebulae. It is nearby, approximately 2,200 light-years away, and bright – visible with binoculars on a clear summer evening from the northern hemisphere and much of the southern. It displays intricate structures of the final stages of a dying star, a phase of a Sun-like star’s stellar lifecycle.

The ESSENcE team realized that Webb observations would provide them with invaluable insights, since the Ring Nebula fits nicely in the field of view of Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) instruments, allowing it to be studied in unprecedented spatial detail.


the official Press Release on the NASA blog


the official Press Release from ESA


Webb is the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space.
Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).



04/08/2023 - JWST NIRCAM images of the Ring Nebula

James Webb Space Telescope Captures Stunning Images of the "Ring Nebula" in Lyra


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has recorded breath-taking new images of the iconic Ring Nebula (Messier 57). The images, released today by an international team of astronomers led by Prof. Mike Barlow (UCL, UK) and Dr.  Nick Cox (ACRI-ST, France), showcase the nebula's intricate and ethereal beauty in unprecedented detail, providing scientists and the public with a mesmerizing view of this celestial wonder.

For many sky enthusiasts, the Ring Nebula is a well-known object that is visible all summer long  and that is located in the constellation Lyra. A small telescope will already reveal the characteristic donut-like structure of glowing gas that gave the Ring Nebula its name. It is a planetary nebula, objects that are the colourful remnants of dying stars that have thrown out much of their mass at the end of their lives. The Ring Nebula’s distinctive structure and its vibrant colors have long captivated the human imagination. The stunning visuals captured by the JWST offer an unparalleled opportunity to study and understand the complex processes that shaped this cosmic masterpiece.


Read the full press release <click here>