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Awesome Star Explosion Caught on Camera


It's a mystery, and it's way bigger than you think.


You can't see it from Earth, it's an unexplained space event and it took four years to film.

It's safe to say you may never seen another video like this.

This massive star is explosion is technically called a "light echo." NASA captured the amazing sight over the course of four years via the Hubble Space Telescope and then published the time-lapse video.

NASA admitted they still don't know what caused the "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," NASA explained. "Then, just as suddenly, it faded."

A stellar flash like this had never been seen before - supernovas and novas expel matter out into space, according to NASA. Although the V838 Mon flash appears to expel material into space, what the video actually shows is the 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," NASA said. "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."

To put that in perspective, the sun is eight light minutes away from the earth.

Pluto is roughly nine light days away from us.

This outburst is six light years across.

The cause of the light echo is still a mystery, but Gizmodo reported on the different theories that astrophysicists have postulated on the star, thus far:

• An atypical nova outbursts (this is very unlikely).

• A thermal pulse of a dying star (the new pulse illuminates the layers of star  • A thermonuclear event within a massive supergiant (in which the helium in one of the layers of the massive star ignites and starts a fusion process).

• A mergeburst (the burst caused by the merge of two main sequence stars).

• A planetary capture event (in which the star has swallowed one of its giant gas planets).

Whatever the cause, the images captured by Hubble are rare and breathtaking.

Hubble is one of NASA's most successful and long-lasting science missions, according to the agency. It has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, "shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy," NASA's site states. "Its gaze has helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and the existence of dark energy."

hubble The V838 Mon light echo is massively huge, approximately six light days across. (Image source: NASA)

(H/T: Gizmodo)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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