Tags: star | explosion

Scientists Baffled by Explosion of Distant Star

Sunday, 15 Jun 2014 10:59 PM

By Elliot Jager

NASA's Hubble telescope has captured rare images of an exploding red star, The Daily Mail reported.

The star, known as V838 Monocerotis, is about 20,000 light years from Earth. Scientists are at a loss to explain V838's brilliant explosion. They feel certain only that the bang they observed is not a comparatively familiar nova in which the star returns to its original state.

"The outburst may represent a transitory stage in a star's evolution that is rarely seen," according to the http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2004/10/ Hubble website. "The star has some similarities to highly unstable aging stars called eruptive variables, which suddenly and unpredictably increase in brightness."

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V838 produced 600,000 times more light than Earth's own sun, the Daily Mail reported.
Time-lapsed footage— captured from 2002 and 2006— shows a detonation so colossal that V838 briefly became the brightest star in the Milky Way.

NASA scientists surmise that V838 did not expel its outer layers as happens in a nova. Instead, it grew tremendously in size. Its surface temperature dropped dramatically to "not much hotter than a light bulb." And the concurrent illumination was actually a "light echo," akin to a camera flash reflected by interstellar dust that had been released during previous outbursts, according to Hubble.

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