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In photos: The wonders of the universe

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The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, in the constellation of Orion, experienced unprecedented dimming late in 2019. This image was taken in January using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. ESO/M. Montargès et al.

This is an infrared image of Apep, a Wolf-Rayet star binary system located 8,000 light-years from Earth. European Southern Observatory

An artist’s illustration, left, helps visualize the details of an unusual star system, GW Orionis, in the Orion constellation. The system’s circumstellar disk is broken, resulting in misaligned rings around its three stars. ESO/L. Calçada, Exeter/Kraus et al.

This is a simulation of two spiral black holes that merge and emit gravitational waves. N. Fischer, H. Pfeiffer, A. Buonanno, MPIGP, SXS Collaboration

This artist’s illustration shows the unexpected dimming of the star Betelgeuse. ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser

This extremely distant galaxy, which looks similar to our own Milky Way, appears like a ring of light. Rizzo et al./ALMA/European Southern Observatory

This artist’s interpretation shows the calcium-rich supernova 2019ehk. The orange represents the calcium-rich material created in the explosion. Purple reveals gas shed by the star right before the explosion. Aaron M. Geller, Northwestern University

The blue dot at the center of this image marks the approximate location of a supernova event which occurred 140 million light-years from Earth, where a white dwarf exploded and created an ultraviolet flash. It was located close to tail of the Draco constellation. Northwestern University

This radar image captured by NASA’s Magellan mission to Venus in 1991 shows a corona, a large circular structure 120 miles in diameter, named Aine Corona. From NASA/JPL

When a star’s mass is ejected during a supernova, it expands quickly. Eventually, it will slow and form a hot bubble of glowing gas. A white dwarf will emerge from this gas bubble and move across the galaxy. Mark Garlick/University of Warwick

The afterglow of short gamma ray burst that was detected 10 billion light-years away is shown here in a circle. This image was taken by the Gemini-North telescope. International Gemini Observatory/K. Paterson/W. Fong/Northwestern University

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows NGC 7513, a barred spiral galaxy 60 million light-years away. Due to the expansion of the universe, the galaxy appears to be moving away from the Milky Way at an accelerate rate. Hubble Space Telescope/NASA/ESA/M. Stiavelli

This artist’s concept illustration shows what the luminous blue variable star in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy may have looked like before it mysteriously disappeared. L. Calçada/ESO

This is an artist’s illustration of a supermassive black hole and its surrounding disk of gas. Inside this disk are two smaller black holes orbiting one another. Researchers identified a flare of light suspected to have come from one such binary pair soon after they merged into a larger black hole. Robert Hurt/California Institute of Technology

This image, taken from a video, shows what happens as two objects of different masses merge together and create gravitational waves. Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics/Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) Collaboration

This is an artist’s impression showing the detection of a repeating fast radio burst seen in blue, which is in orbit with an astrophysical object seen in pink. Kristi Mickaliger

Fast radio bursts, which make a splash by leaving their host galaxy in a bright burst of radio waves, helped detect “missing matter” in the universe. ICRAR

A new type of explosion was found in a tiny galaxy 500 million light-years away from Earth. This type of explosion is referred to as a fast blue optical transient. Giacomo Terreran/Northwestern University

Astronomers have discovered a rare type of galaxy described as a “cosmic ring of fire.” This artist’s illustration shows the galaxy as it existed 11 billion years ago. James Josephides/Swinburne Astronomy Productions

This is an artist’s impression of the Wolfe Disk, a massive rotating disk galaxy in the early universe. NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello

A bright yellow “twist” near the center of this image shows where a planet may be forming around the AB Aurigae star. The image was captured by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. ESO/Boccaletti et al.

This artist’s illustration shows the orbits of two stars and an invisible black hole 1,000 light-years from Earth. This system includes one star (small orbit seen in blue) orbiting a newly discovered black hole (orbit in red), as well as a third star in a wider orbit (also in blue). European Southern Observatory/ESO/L. Calçada

This illustration shows a star’s core, known as a white dwarf, pulled into orbit around a black hole. During each orbit, the black hole rips off more material from the star and pulls it into a glowing disk of material around the black hole. Before its encounter with the black hole, the star was a red giant in the last stages of stellar evolution. NASA/CXO/CSIC-INTA/G.Miniutti et al./CXC/M. Weiss

This artist’s illustration shows the collision of two 125-mile-wide icy, dusty bodies orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away. The observation of the aftermath of this collision was once thought to be an exoplanet. M. Kornmesser/ESA/NASA

This is an artist’s impression of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov as it travels through our solar system. New observations detected carbon monixide in the cometary tail as the sun heated the comet. NRAO/AUI/NSF/S. Dagnello

This rosette pattern is the orbit of a star, called S2, around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. European Southern Observatory/ESO/L. Calçada

This is an artist’s illustration of SN2016aps, which astronomers believe is the brightest supernova ever observed. M. Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

This is an artist’s illustration of a brown dwarf, or a “failed star” object, and its magnetic field. The brown dwarf’s atmosphere and magnetic field rotate at different speeds, which allowed astronomers to determine wind speed on the object. Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

This artist’s illustration shows an intermediate-mass black hole tearing into a star. M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble

This is an artist’s impression of a large star known as HD74423 and its much smaller red dwarf companion in a binary star system. The large star appears to pulsate on one side only, and it’s being distorted by the gravitational pull of its companion star into a teardrop shape. Gabriel Pérez Díaz/Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands

This is an artist’s impression of two white dwarfs in the process of merging. While astronomers expected that this might cause a supernova, they have found an instance of two white dwarf stars that survived merging. University of Warwick/Mark Garlick

A combination of space and ground-based telescopes have found evidence for the biggest explosion seen in the universe. The explosion was created by a black hole located in the Ophiuchus cluster’s central galaxy, which has blasted out jets and carved a large cavity in the surrounding hot gas. S. Giacintucci, et al./NRL/CXC/NASA

This new ALMA image shows the outcome of a stellar fight: a complex and stunning gas environment surrounding the binary star system HD101584. ESO/NAOJ/NRAO/ALMA

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured the Tarantula Nebula in two wavelengths of infrared light. The red represents hot gas, while the blue regions are interstellar dust. JPL-Caltech/NASA

A white dwarf, left, is pulling material off of a brown dwarf, right, about 3,000 light-years from Earth. NASA/L. Hustak

This image shows the orbits of the six G objects at the center of our galaxy, with the supermassive black hole indicated with a white cross. Stars, gas and dust are in the background. Anna Ciurlo/Tuan Do/UCLA Galactic Center Group

After stars die, they expel their particles out into space, which form new stars in turn. In one case, stardust became embedded in a meteorite that fell to Earth. This illustration shows that stardust could flow from sources like the Egg Nebula to create the grains recovered from the meteorite, which landed in Australia. NASA/W. Sparks (STScI)/R. Sahai

The former North Star, Alpha Draconis or Thuban, is circled here in an image of the northern sky. NASA

Galaxy UGC 2885, nicknamed the “Godzilla galaxy,” may be the largest one in the local universe. NASA/ESA/B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)

The host galaxy of a newly traced repeating fast radio burst acquired with the 8-meter Gemini-North telescope. Danielle Futselaar/artsource.nl

The Milky Way’s central region was imaged using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. European Southern Observatory/ESO/Nogueras-Lara et al.

This is an artist’s illustration of what MAMBO-9 would look like in visible light. The galaxy is very dusty and it has yet to build most of its stars. The two components show that the galaxy is in the process of merging. NRAO/AUI/NSF/B. Saxton

Astronomers have found a white dwarf star surrounded by a gas disk created from an ice giant planet being torn apart by its gravity. Mark A. Garlick/University of Warwick

New measurements of the black hole at the center of the Holm 15A galaxy reveal it’s 40 billion times more massive than our sun, making it the heaviest known black hole to be directly measured. Matthias Kluge/USM/MPE

This image, which combines observations from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Karl Jansky Very Large Array, shows a black hole that is triggering star formation nearly one million light-years away from it. The large red bubble on the left is a hot gas bubble and the dots of light to the right of it are four galaxies where star formation has increased. The host galaxy of the black hole that released the gas bubble is the bright point of light to the right of the golden light at the center. CXC/INAF/R. Gilli et al/NRAO/VLA/STScI/NASA

A close-up view of an interstellar comet passing through our solar system can be seen on the left. On the right, astronomers used an image of Earth for comparison. Pieter van Dokkum/Cheng-Han Hsieh/Shany Danieli/Gregory Laughlin

The galaxy NGC 6240 hosts three supermassive black holes at its core. P Weilbacher (AIP), NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage

Gamma-ray bursts are shown in this artist’s illustration. They can be triggered by the collision or neutron stars or the explosion of a super massive star, collapsing into a black hole. Science Communication Lab/DESY

Two gaseous clouds resembling peacocks have been found in neighboring dwarf galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud. In these images by the ALMA telescopes, red and green highlight molecular gas while blue shows ionized hydrogen gas. ESO/NAOJ/NRAO/NASA/ALMA

An artist’s impression of the Milky Way’s big black hole flinging a star from the galaxy’s center. James Josephides/Swinburne Astronomy Productions

The Jack-o’-lantern Nebula is on the edge of the Milky Way. Radiation from the massive star at its center created spooky-looking gaps in the nebula that make it look like a carved pumpkin. JPL-Caltech/NASA

This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures two galaxies of equal size in a collision that appears to resemble a ghostly face. This observation was made on 19 June 2019 in visible light by the telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. ESA/Hubble/NASA

A new SPHERE/VLT image of Hygiea, which could be the Solar System’s smallest dwarf planet yet. As an object in the main asteroid belt, Hygiea satisfies right away three of the four requirements to be classified as a dwarf planet: it orbits around the Sun, it is not a moon and, unlike a planet, it has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit. The final requirement is that it have enough mass that its own gravity pulls it into a roughly spherical shape. This is what VLT observations have now revealed about Hygiea. P. Vernazza et al./MISTRAL algorithm/ESO

This is an artist’s rendering of what a massive galaxy from the early universe might look like. The rendering shows that star formation in the galaxy is lighting up the surrounding gas. Image by James Josephides/Swinburne Astronomy Productions, Christina Williams/University of Arizona and Ivo Labbe/Swinburne.

This is an artist’s illustration of gas and dust disk around the star HD 163296. Gaps in the disk are likely the location of baby planets that are forming. Robin Dienel/The Carnegie Institution for Science

This is a two-color composite image of comet 2I/Borisov captured by the Gemini North telescope on September 10. Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA

This illustration shows a young, forming planet in a “baby-proof” star system. MPIA Graphics Department

Using a simulation, astronomers shed light on the faint gaseous filaments that comprise the cosmic web in a massive galaxy cluster. Joshua Borrow

The Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera observed Saturn in June as the planet made its closest approach to Earth this year, at approximately 1.36 billion kilometers away. A. Simon/M.H. Wong/ESA/NASA

An artist’s impression of the massive bursts of ionizing radiation exploding from the center of the Milky Way and impacting the Magellanic Stream. James Josephides/ASTRO 3D

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array captured this unprecedented image of two circumstellar disks, in which baby stars are growing, feeding off material from their surrounding birth disk. European Southern Observatory/ALMA/ESO/NAOJ/NRAO/Alves et al

This is an artist’s illustration of what a Neptune-size moon would look like orbiting the gas giant exoplanet Kepler-1625b in a star system 8,000 light-years from Earth. It could be the first exomoon ever discovered. Dan Durda/Southwest Research Institute

This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows a cloud of gas and dust full of bubbles, which are inflated by wind and radiation from massive young stars. Each bubble is filled with hundreds to thousands of stars, which form from dense clouds of gas and dust. JPL-Caltech/NASA

This is an artist’s impression of the path of the fast radio burst FRB 181112 traveling from a distant host galaxy to reach the Earth. It passed through the halo of a galaxy on the way. M. Kornmesser/ESO

After passing too close to a supermassive black hole, the star in this artist’s conception is torn into a thin stream of gas, which is then pulled back around the black hole and slams into itself, creating a bright shock and ejecting more hot material. Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science.

Comparison of GJ 3512 to the Solar System and other nearby red-dwarf planetary systems. Planets around a solar-mass stars can grow until they start accreting gas and become giant planets such as Jupiter, in a few millions of years. But we thought that small stars such asProxima, TRAPPIST-1, TeegardernÕs star and GJ 3512, could not form Jupiter mass planets. Guillem Anglada-Escude/IEEC/SpaceEngine.org

A collision of three galaxies has set three supermassive black holes on a crash course with each other in a system one billion light-years from Earth. NASA/CXC/George Mason Univ./R. Pfeifle et al.

2I/Borisov is the first interstellar comet observed in our solar system and only the second observed interstellar visitor to our solar system. Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA

KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian’s Star or Tabby’s Star, is 1,000 light-years from us. It’s 50% bigger than our sun and 1,000 degrees hotter. And it doesn’t behave like any other star, dimming and brightening sporadically. Dust around the star, depicted here in an artist’s illustration, may be the most likely cause of its strange behavior. NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is an artist’s impression of a massive neutron star’s pulse being delayed by the passage of a white dwarf star between the neutron star and Earth. Astronomers have detected the most massive neutron star to date due to this delay. BSaxton/NRAO/AUI/NSF

The European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope captured a stunning image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our nearest galactic neighbors. The near-infrared capability of the telescope showcases millions of individual stars. ESO/VMC Survey

Astronomers believe Comet C/2019 Q4 could be the second known interstellar visitor to our solar system. It was first spotted on August 30 and imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on September 10, 2019. Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/NASA

A star known as S0-2, represented as the blue and green object in this artist’s illustration, made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way in 2018. This provided a test for Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Nicolle R. Fuller/National Science Foundation

This is a radio image of the Milky Way’s galactic center. The radio bubbles discovered by MeerKAT extend vertically above and below the plane of the galaxy. Oxford/SARAO

A kilanova was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016, seen here next to the red arrow. Kilanovae are massive explosions that create heavy elements like gold and platinum. E. Troja/ESA/NASA

This is an artist’s depiction of a black hole about to swallow a neutron star. Detectors signaled this possible event on August 14. Carl Knox/OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence

This artist’s illustration shows LHS 3844b, a rocky nearby exoplanet. It’s 1.3 times the mass of Earth and orbits a cool M-dwarf star. The planet’s surface is probably dark and covered in cooled volcanic material, and there is no detectable atmosphere. R. Hurt/NASA

An artist’s concept of the explosion of a massive star within a dense stellar environment. Joy Pollard/Gemini

Galaxy NGC 5866 is 44 million light-years from Earth. It appears flat because we can only see its edge in this image captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Hubble Space Telescope took a dazzling new portrait of Jupiter, showcasing its vivid colors and swirling cloud features in the atmosphere. A. Simon/ M.H. Wong/ESA/Hubble/NASA

This is an artist’s impression of the ancient massive and distant galaxies observed with ALMA. NAOJ

Glowing gas clouds and newborn stars make up the Seagull Nebula in one of the Milky Way galaxy’s spiral arms. ESO/VPHAS+ team/N.J. Wright (Keele University)

An artist’s concept of what the first stars looked like soon after the Big Bang. Wise, Abel, Kaehler (KIPAC/SLAC)

Spiral galaxy NGC 2985 lies roughly over 70 million light years from our solar system in the constellation of Ursa Major. ESA/Hubble/NASA

Early in the history of the universe, the Milky Way galaxy collided with a dwarf galaxy, left, which helped form our galaxy’s ring and structure as it’s known today. Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC)

An artist’s illustration of a thin disc embedded in a supermassive black hole at the center of spiral galaxy NGC 3147, 130 million light-years away. M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble

Hubble captured this view of a spiral galaxy named NGC 972 that appears to be blooming with new star formation. The orange glow is created as hydrogen gas reacts to the intense light streaming outwards from nearby newborn stars. L. Ho/ESA/Hubble/NASA

This is jellyfish galaxy JO201. Callum Bellhouse and the GASP collaboration

The Eta Carinae star system, located 7,500 light-years from Earth, experienced a great explosion in 1838 and the Hubble Space Telescope is still capturing the aftermath. This new ultraviolet image reveals the warm glowing gas clouds that resemble fireworks. NASA/ESA/N. Smith/J. Morse

‘Oumuamua, the first observed interstellar visitor to our solar system, is shown in an artist’s illustration. European Southern Observatory/ESO/M. Kornmesser

This is an artist’s rendering of ancient supernovae that bombarded Earth with cosmic energy millions of years ago. NASA

An artist’s impression of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder radio telescope finding a fast radio burst and determining its precise location. CSIRO/Dr Andrew Howells

The Whirlpool galaxy has been captured in different light wavelengths. On the left is a visible light image. The next image combines visible and infrared light, while the two on the right show different wavelengths of infrared light. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Electrically charged C60 molecules, in which 60 carbon atoms are arranged in a hollow sphere that resembles a soccer ball, was found by the Hubble Space Telescope in the interstellar medium between star systems. NASA/JPL-Caltech

These are magnified galaxies behind large galaxy clusters. The pink halos reveal the gas surrounding the distant galaxies and its structure. The gravitational lensing effect of the clusters multiplies the images of the galaxies. ESO/NASA/ESA/A.Claeyssens

This artist’s illustration shows a blue quasar at the center of a galaxy. Michelle Vigeant

The NICER detector on the International Space Station recorded 22 months of nighttime X-ray data to create this map of the entire sky. NASA/NICER

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this mosaic of the star-forming Cepheus C and Cepheus B regions. NASA

Galaxy NGC 4485 collided with its larger galactic neighbor NGC 4490 millions of years ago, leading to the creation of new stars seen in the right side of the image. ESA/Hubble/NASA

Astronomers developed a mosaic of the distant universe, called the Hubble Legacy Field, that documents 16 years of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. The image contains 200,000 galaxies that stretch back through 13.3 billion years of time to just 500 million years after the Big Bang. NASA/ESA

A ground-based telescope’s view of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy of our Milky Way. The inset was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and shows one of the star clusters in the galaxy. NASA, ESA, Adam Riess, and Palomar Digitized Sky Survey

STScI/ESA/NASA

One of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky and first discovered in 1878, nebula NGC 7027 can be seen toward the constellation of the Swan. Hubble Legacy Archive/ESA/NASA

The asteroid 6478 Gault is seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, showing two narrow, comet-like tails of debris that tell us that the asteroid is slowly undergoing self-destruction. The bright streaks surrounding the asteroid are background stars. The Gault asteroid is located 214 million miles from the Sun, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. NASA/ESA/K. Meech/J. Kleyna/Univ. of Hawaii/O. Hainaut/European Southern Observatory

The ghostly shell in this image is a supernova, and the glowing trail leading away from it is a pulsar. Composite by Jayanne English/University of Manitoba

Hidden in one of the darkest corners of the Orion constellation, this Cosmic Bat is spreading its hazy wings through interstellar space two thousand light-years away. It is illuminated by the young stars nestled in its core — despite being shrouded by opaque clouds of dust, their bright rays still illuminate the nebula. European Southern Observatory

In this illustration, several dust rings circle the sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids. Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith/NASA

This is an artist’s impression of globular star clusters surrounding the Milky Way. ESA/Hubble, L. Watkins, L. Calçada

An artist’s impression of life on a planet in orbit around a binary star system, visible as two suns in the sky. Mark Garlick

An artist’s illustration of one of the most distant solar system objects yet observed, 2018 VG18 — also known as “Farout.” The pink hue suggests the presence of ice. We don’t yet have an idea of what “FarFarOut” looks like. Roberto Molar Candanosa/Carnegie Institution

This is an artist’s concept of the tiny moon Hippocamp that was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope. Only 20 miles across, it may actually be a broken-off fragment from a much larger neighboring moon, Proteus, seen as a crescent in the background. NASA/ESA/J. Olmsted (STScl)

In this illustration, an asteroid (bottom left) breaks apart under the powerful gravity of LSPM J0207+3331, the oldest, coldest white dwarf known to be surrounded by a ring of dusty debris. Scientists think the system’s infrared signal is best explained by two distinct rings composed of dust supplied by crumbling asteroids. Scott Wiessinger/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

An artist’s impression of the warped and twisted Milky Way disk. This happens when the rotational forces of the massive center of the galaxy tug on the outer disk. Chao Liu/National Astronomical Observatories/Chinese Academy of Sciences

This 1.3-kilometer (0.8-mile)-radius Kuiper Belt Object discovered by researchers on the edge of the solar system is believed to be the step between balls of dust and ice and fully formed planets. Dr. Ko Arimatsu/Kyoto University/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

A selfie taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Vera Rubin Ridge before it moves to a new location. JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope found a dwarf galaxy hiding behind a big star cluster that’s in our cosmic neighborhood. It’s so old and pristine that researchers have dubbed it a “living fossil” from the early universe. ESA/L. Bedin/NASA

How did massive black holes form in the early universe? The rotating gaseous disk of this dark matter halo breaks apart into three clumps that collapse under their own gravity to form supermassive stars. Those stars will quickly collapse and form massive black holes. John Wise/Georgia Institute of Technology

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. Astrophysicists now believe it could collide with our galaxy in two billion years. JPL-Caltech/STScI/NASA

A mysterious bright object in the sky, dubbed “The Cow,” was captured in real time by telescopes around the world. Astronomers believe that it could be the birth of a black hole or neutron star, or a new class of object. Dustin Lang/Legacy Surveys project

An illustration depicts the detection of a repeating fast radio burst from a mysterious source 3 billion light-years from Earth. ASTRON/NOVA

Comet 46P/Wirtanen will pass within 7 million miles of Earth on December 16. It’s ghostly green coma is the size of Jupiter, even though the comet itself is about three-quarters of a mile in diameter. Alex Cherney/Terrastro

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on December 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

This image of a globular cluster of stars by the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most ancient collections of stars known. The cluster, called NGC 6752, is more than 10 billion years old. NASA

An image of Apep captured with the VISIR camera on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. This “pinwheel” star system is most likely doomed to end in a long-duration gamma-ray burst. European Southern Observatory/University of Sydney

An artist’s impression of galaxy Abell 2597, showing the supermassive black hole expelling cold molecular gas like the pump of a giant intergalactic fountain. Courtesy of NRAO/AUI/NSF; D. Ber

An image of the Wild Duck Cluster, where every star is roughly 250 million years old. European Southern Observatory

These images reveal the final stage of a union between pairs of galactic nuclei in the messy cores of colliding galaxies. NASA, ESA, and M. Koss

A radio image of hydrogen gas in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Astronomers believe that the dwarf galaxy is slowly dying and will eventually be consumed by the Milky Way. Naomi McClure-Griffiths et al, C

Further evidence of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy has been found. This visualization uses data from simulations of orbital motions of gas swirling around about 30% of the speed of light on a circular orbit around the black hole. ESO/Gravity Consortium/L. Calça

Does this look like a bat to you? This giant shadow comes from a bright star reflecting against the dusty disk surrounding it. NASA/STScI

Hey, Bennu! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, on its way to meet the primitive asteroid Bennu, is sending back images as it gets closer to its December 3 target. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

These three panels reveal a supernova before, during and after it happened 920 million light-years from Earth(from left to right). The supernova, dubbed iPTF14gqr, is unusual because although the star was massive, its explosion was quick and faint. Researchers believe this is due to a companion star that siphoned away its mass. NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

An artist’s illustration of Planet X, which could be shaping the orbits of smaller extremely distant outer solar system objects like 2015 TG387. Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

This is an artist’s concept of what SIMP J01365663+0933473 might look like. It has 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter but a magnetic field 200 times more powerful than Jupiter’s. This object is 20 light-years from Earth. It’s on the boundary line between being a planet or being a brown dwarf. Chuck Carter/NRAO/AUI/NSF

The Andromeda galaxy cannibalized and shredded the once-large galaxy M32p, leaving behind this compact galaxy remnant known as M32. It is completely unique and contains a wealth of young stars. Thomas M. Brown

Twelve new moons have been found around Jupiter. This graphic shows various groupings of the moons and their orbits, with the newly discovered ones shown in bold. Roberto Molar-Candanosa/Carnegie Institution for Science

Scientists and observatories around the world were able to trace a high-energy neutrino to a galaxy with a supermassive, rapidly spinning black hole at its center, known as a blazar. The galaxy sits to the left of Orion’s shoulder in his constellation and is about 4 billion light-years from Earth. IceCube/NASA

Planets don’t just appear out of thin air — but they do require gas, dust and other processes not fully understood by astronomers. This is an artist’s impression of what “infant” planets look like forming around a young star. S. Dagnello/NRAO/AUI/NSF

These negative images of 2015 BZ509, which is circled in yellow, show the first known interstellar object that has become a permanent part of our solar system. The exo-asteroid was likely pulled into our solar system from another star system 4.5 billion years ago. It then settled into a retrograde orbit around Jupiter. C. Veillet/Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

A close look at the diamond matrix in a meteorite that landed in Sudan in 2008. This is considered to be the first evidence of a proto-planet that helped form the terrestrial planets in our solar system. Dr. F. Nabiei/Dr. E. Oveisi, EPFL, Switzerland

2004 EW95 is the first carbon-rich asteroid confirmed to exist in the Kuiper Belt and a relic of the primordial solar system. This curious object probably formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before being flung billions of miles to its current home in the Kuiper Belt. ESO/M. Kornmesser

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 28th anniversary in space with this stunning and colorful image of the Lagoon Nebula 4,000 light-years from Earth. While the whole nebula is 55 light-years across, this image only reveals a portion of about four light-years. ESA/Hubble/NASA/STScI

This is a more star-filled view of the Lagoon Nebula, using Hubble’s infrared capabilities. The reason you can see more stars is because infrared is able to cut through the dust and gas clouds to reveal the abundance of both young stars within the nebula, as well as more distant stars in the background. ESA/Hubble/NASA/STScI

The Rosette Nebula is 5,000 light-years from Earth. The distinctive nebula, which some claim looks more like a skull, has a hole in the middle that creates the illusion of its rose-like shape. Nick Wright/Keele University

This inner slope of a Martian crater has several of the seasonal dark streaks called “recurrent slope lineae,” or RSL, that a November 2017 report interprets as granular flows, rather than darkening due to flowing water. The image is from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS

This artist’s impression shows a supernova explosion, which contains the luminosity of 100 million suns. Supernova iPTF14hls, which has exploded multiple times, may be the most massive and longest-lasting ever observed. M. Kornmesser/ESO

This illustration shows hydrocarbon compounds splitting into carbon and hydrogen inside ice giants, such as Neptune, turning into a “diamond (rain) shower.” Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

This striking image is the stellar nursery in the Orion Nebula, where stars are born. The red filament is a stretch of ammonia molecules measuring 50 light-years long. The blue represents the gas of the Orion Nebula. This image is a composite of observation from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope and NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explore telescope. “We still don’t understand in detail how large clouds of gas in our Galaxy collapse to form new stars,” said Rachel Friesen, one of the collaboration’s co-Principal Investigators. “But ammonia is an excellent tracer of dense, star-forming gas.” R. Friesen, Dunlap Institute; J. Pineda, MPIP; GBO/AUI/NSF

This is an illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. The NASA probe will explore the sun’s atmosphere in a mission that begins in the summer of 2018. NASA
See that tiny dot between Saturn’s rings? That’s Earth, as seen by the Cassini mission on April 12, 2017. “Cassini was 870 million miles away from Earth when the image was taken,” according to NASA. “Although far too small to be visible in the image, the part of Earth facing Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean.” Much like the famous “pale blue dot” image captured by Voyager 1 in 1990, we are but a point of light when viewed from the furthest planet in the solar system. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, using infrared technology, reveals the density of stars in the Milky Way. According to NASA, the photo — stitched together from nine images — contains more than a half-million stars. The star cluster is the densest in the galaxy. NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
This photo of Saturn’s large icy moon, Tethys, was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which sent back some jaw-dropping images from the ringed planet. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This is what Earth and its moon look like from Mars. The image is a composite of the best Earth image and the best moon image taken on November 20, 2016, by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The orbiter’s camera takes images in three wavelength bands: infrared, red and blue-green. Mars was about 127 million miles from Earth when the images were taken. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

PGC 1000714 was initially thought to be a common elliptical galaxy, but a closer analysis revealed the incredibly rare discovery of a Hoag-type galaxy. It has a round core encircled by two detached rings. Ryan Beauchemin

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took these images of the planet’s mysterious hexagon-shaped jetstream in December 2016. The hexagon was discovered in images taken by the Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s. It’s estimated to have a diameter wider than two Earths. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A dead star gives off a greenish glow in this Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula, located about 6,500 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. NASA released the image for Halloween 2016 and played up the theme in its press release. The agency said the “ghoulish-looking object still has a pulse.” At the center of the Crab Nebula is the crushed core, or “heart” of an exploded star. The heart is spinning 30 times per second and producing a magnetic field that generates 1 trillion volts, NASA said. NASA/ESA

Peering through the thick dust clouds of the galactic bulge, an international team of astronomers revealed the unusual mix of stars in the stellar cluster known as Terzan 5. The new results indicate that Terzan 5 is one of the bulge’s primordial building blocks, most likely the relic of the very early days of the Milky Way. European Southern Observatory/F. Ferraro

An artist’s conception of Planet Nine, which would be the farthest planet within our solar system. The similar cluster orbits of extreme objects on the edge of our solar system suggest a massive planet is located there. Courtesy Robin Dienel

An illustration of the orbits of the new and previously known extremely distant Solar System objects. The clustering of most of their orbits indicates that they are likely be influenced by something massive and very distant, the proposed Planet X. Courtesy Robin Dienel

Say hello to dark galaxy Dragonfly 44. Like our Milky Way, it has a halo of spherical clusters of stars around its core. Pieter van Dokkum, Roberto Abraham, Gemini Observatory/AURA

A classical nova occurs when a white dwarf star gains matter from its secondary star (a red dwarf) over a period of time, causing a thermonuclear reaction on the surface that eventually erupts in a single visible outburst. This creates a 10,000-fold increase in brightness, depicted here in an artist’s rendering. K. Ulaczyk/Warsaw University Observatory

Gravitational lensing and space warping are visible in this image of near and distant galaxies captured by Hubble. NASA

At the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, researchers discovered an X-shaped structure within a tightly packed group of stars. From NASA/JPL-Caltech/D.Lang

Meet UGC 1382: What astronomers thought was a normal elliptical galaxy (left) was actually revealed to be a massive disc galaxy made up of different parts when viewed with ultraviolet and deep optical data (center and right). In a complete reversal of normal galaxy structure, the center is younger than its outer spiral disk. NASA/JPL/Caltech/SDSS/NRAO

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the Crab Nebula and its “beating heart,” which is a neutron star at the right of the two bright stars in the center of this image. The neutron star pulses 30 times a second. The rainbow colors are visible due to the movement of materials in the nebula occurring during the time-lapse of the image. ESA/NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of a hidden galaxy that is fainter than Andromeda or the Milky Way. This low surface brightness galaxy, called UGC 477, is over 110 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces. ESA/Hubble & NASA

On April 19, NASA released new images of bright craters on Ceres. This photo shows the Haulani Crater, which has evidence of landslides from its rim. Scientists believe some craters on the dwarf planet are bright because they are relatively new. NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

This illustration shows the millions of dust grains NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sampled near Saturn. A few dozen of them appear to have come from beyond our solar system. JPL-Caltech/NASA

This image from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile shows a stunning concentration of galaxies known as the Fornax Cluster, which can be found in the Southern Hemisphere. At the center of this cluster, in the middle of the three bright blobs on the left side of the image, lies a cD galaxy — a galactic cannibal that has grown in size by consuming smaller galaxies. ESO

This image shows the central region of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The young and dense star cluster R136, which contains hundreds of massive stars, is visible in the lower right of the image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. ESA/Hubble/NASA

In March 2016, astronomers published a paper on powerful red flashes coming from binary system V404 Cygni in 2015. This illustration shows a black hole, similar to the one in V404 Cygni, devouring material from an orbiting star. ESO/L. Calçada

A new map of the Milky Way was released February 24, 2016, giving astronomers a full census of the star-forming regions within our own galaxy. The APEX telescope in Chile captured this survey. ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL

This image shows the elliptical galaxy NGC 4889, deeply embedded within the Coma galaxy cluster. There is a gigantic supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. NASA/ESA

An artist’s impression of 2MASS J2126, which takens 900,000 years to orbit its star, 1 trillion kilometers away. University of Hertfordshire / Neil Cook

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune. CNN, Nasa, Caltech

An international team of astronomers may have discovered the biggest and brightest supernova ever. The explosion was 570 billion times brighter than the sun and 20 times brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy combined, according to a statement from The Ohio State University, which is leading the study. Scientists are straining to define the supernova’s strength. This image shows an artist’s impression of the supernova as it would appear from an exoplanet located about 10,000 light years away. Jin Ma/Beijing Planetarium/The Kavli Foundation/AP
Astronomers noticed huge waves of gas being “burped” by the black hole at the center of NGC 5195, a small galaxy 26 million light years from Earth. The team believes the outburst is a consequence of the interaction of NGC 5195 with a nearby galaxy. NASA
An artist’s illustration shows a binary black hole found in the quasar at the center of the Markarian 231 galaxy. Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovered the galaxy being powered by two black holes “furiously whirling about each other,” the space agency said in a news release. NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScl)

An artist’s impression of what a black hole might look like. In February, researchers in China said they had spotted a super-massive black hole 12 billion times the size of the sun. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Are there are oceans on any of Jupiter’s moons? The Juice probe shown in this artist’s impression aims to find out. Picture courtesy of ESA/AOES ESA/AOES

Astronomers have discovered powerful auroras on a brown dwarf that is 20 light-years away. This is an artist’s concept of the phenomenon. Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech

Venus, bottom, and Jupiter shine brightly above Matthews, North Carolina, on Monday, June 29. The apparent close encounter, called a conjunction, has been giving a dazzling display in the summer sky. Although the two planets appear to be close together, in reality they are millions of miles apart. Chuck Burton/AP

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may be the best place in the solar system to look for extraterrestrial life, according to NASA. The moon is about the size of Earth’s moon, and there is evidence it has an ocean beneath its frozen crust that may hold twice as much water as Earth. NASA’s 2016 budget includes a request for $30 million to plan a mission to investigate Europa. The image above was taken by the Galileo spacecraft on November 25, 1999. It’s a 12-frame mosaic and is considered the the best image yet of the side of Europa that faces Jupiter. University of Arizona/JPL/NASA

This nebula, or cloud of gas and dust, is called RCW 34 or Gum 19. The brightest areas you can see are where the gas is being heated by young stars. Eventually the gas burst outward like champagne after a bottle is uncorked. Scientists call this champagne flow. This new image of the nebula was captured by the European Space Organization’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. RCW 34 is in the constellation Vela in the southern sky. The name means “sails of a ship” in Latin. ESO

The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of Jupiter’s three great moons — Io, Callisto, and Europa — passing by at once. NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team/STScI/AURA

A massive galaxy cluster known as SDSS J1038+4849 looks like a smiley face in an image captured by the Hubble Telescope. The two glowing eyes are actually two distant galaxies. And what of the smile and the round face? That’s a result of what astronomers call “strong gravitational lensing.” That happens because the gravitational pull between the two galaxy clusters is so strong it distorts time and space around them. NASA & ESA

Using powerful optics, astronomers have found a planet-like body, J1407b, with rings 200 times the size of Saturn’s. This is an artist’s depiction of the rings of planet J1407b, which are eclipsing a star. University of Rochester/Ron Miller

A patch of stars appears to be missing in this image from the La Silla Observatory in Chile. But the stars are actually still there behind a cloud of gas and dust called Lynds Dark Nebula 483. The cloud is about 700 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens (The Serpent). european southern observatory

This is the largest Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled. It’s a portion of the galaxy next door, Andromeda (M31). ESA/Nasa

NASA has captured a stunning new image of the so-called “Pillars of Creation,” one of the space agency’s most iconic discoveries. The giant columns of cold gas, in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, were popularized by a similar image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team

Astronomers using the Hubble Space pieced together this picture that shows a small section of space in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax. Within this deep-space image are 10,000 galaxies, going back in time as far as a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. NASA

Planetary nebula Abell 33 appears ring-like in this image, taken using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. The blue bubble was created when an aging star shed its outer layers and a star in the foreground happened to align with it to create a “diamond engagement ring” effect. courtesy European Southern Observatory

This long-exposure image from the Hubble Telescope is the deepest-ever picture taken of a cluster of galaxies. The cluster, called Abell 2744, contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago; the more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. ESA/NASA

This Hubble image looks a floating marble or a maybe a giant, disembodied eye. But it’s actually a nebula with a giant star at its center. Scientists think the star used to be 20 times more massive than our sun, but it’s dying and is destined to go supernova. ESA/NASA

Composite image of B14-65666 showing the distributions of dust (red), oxygen (green), and carbon (blue), observed by ALMA and stars (white) observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. ALMA/NASA/ESA/Hashimoto

Artist’s impression of the merging galaxies B14-65666 located 13 billion light years-away. National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year

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(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.

Coffee

Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.

Beauty

Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

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Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.
Twitter

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Facebook

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year

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From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.

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