Monday, May 25, 2015

Watch Rare Timelapse Video of a Dying Star!



The Hubble Telescope recently celebrated its 25th birthday, and in those years it has given us an incredible look at the vast world we live in. Case in point: a rare peek at a dying star.

From 2002 to 2006, Hubble captured close-up images of an enormous star named V838 Moncerotis, which sits 20,000 light-years away from Earth. Back then, the star emitted a powerful flash of light that illuminated the dust and gas that surrounded it.

"Hubble's exceptionally sharp focus of V838 Mon offered a ring-side seat at the slow death of the star and excited astrophysicists with the chance to study the physics of the light, matter and microscopic dust of the interstellar medium," writes The Conversation, which offers more details about the life of the star and the cause of that light flash.

Below you can see a time-lapse video of the photos taken by the Hubble:


The unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) continues to puzzle astronomers. This previously inconspicuous star underwent an outburst early in 2002, during which it temporarily increased in brightness to become 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun. Light from this sudden eruption is illuminating the interstellar dust surrounding the star, producing the most spectacular "light echo" in the history of astronomy.


As light from the eruption propagates outward into the dust, it is scattered by the dust and travels to the Earth. The scattered light has travelled an extra distance in comparison to light that reaches Earth directly from the stellar outburst. Such a light echo is the optical analogue of the sound echo produced when an Alpine yodel is reflected from the surrounding mountainsides.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the V838 Mon light echo since 2002. Each new observation of the light echo reveals a new and unique "thin-section" through the interstellar dust around the star. This video morphs images of the light echo from the Hubble taken at multiple times between 2002 and 2006. The numerous whorls and eddies in the interstellar dust are particularly noticeable. Possibly they have been produced by the effects of magnetic fields in the space between the stars.
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