Astronomy Picture of the Day



Light Echoes from V838 Mon

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#105505 by @ 04.02.2008 00:00 - nach oben -
Light Echoes from V838 Mon


Explanation:
What caused this outburst of V838 Mon?

For reasons unknown, star V838 Mon's
outer surface suddenly greatly expanded with the
result that it became the brightest star in the entire
Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002.

Then, just as suddenly, it faded.

A stellar flash
like this has never been seen before --
supernovas
and novas expel matter out into space.

Although the V838 Mon flash appears to expel material into space, what is seen in the
above image from the

Hubble Space Telescope
is actually an outwardly moving
light echo of the bright flash.

In a light echo, light from the flash is
reflected by successively more distant rings in the complex array of ambient
interstellar dust
that already surrounded the star.

V838 Mon lies about 20,000
light years away toward the constellation of the unicorn
(Monoceros), while the

light echo above spans about six
light years in diameter.



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