Expanding light echoes continue to illuminate the dusty
environs of V838 Monocerotis, mysterious variable star
near the edge of our Galaxy.
This stunning image,
produced from Hubble data recorded in October of 2004,
unique series of space-based, high-resolution views.
After detecting a sudden outburst from the star in 2002,
astronomers have followed the
flash expanding at the speed
of light through pre-existing dust clouds surrounding
the reddened variable star.
While the expanding light echoes are
have struggled to understand where V838 Mon itself fits into the
stellar life cycle.
indicate the V838 Mon is a young
with a massive star responsible for the outburst.
The Hubble image
spans about 14 light-years at the estimated
20,000 light-year distance to V838 Mon.