Un espectáculo impresionante. La fuente es la NASA:

In January 2002, a dull star in an obscure constellation suddenly became 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun, temporarily making it the brightest star in our Milky Way galaxy.

Bond and his team used the Hubble images to determine that the petulant star, called V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) is about 20,000 light-years from Earth. The star put out enough energy in a brief flash to illuminate surrounding dust, like a spelunker taking a flash picture of the walls of an undiscovered cavern. The star presumably ejected the illuminated dust shells in previous outbursts. Light from the latest outburst travels to the dust and then is reflected to Earth. Because of this indirect path, the light arrives at Earth months after light coming directly toward Earth from the star itself.

The outburst of V838 Mon was somewhat similar to that of a nova, a more common stellar outburst. A typical nova is a normal star that dumps hydrogen onto a compact white-dwarf companion star. The hydrogen piles up until it spontaneously explodes by nuclear fusion -- like a titanic hydrogen bomb. This exposes a searing stellar core, which has a temperature of hundreds of thousands of degrees Fahrenheit.

Y todo esto ocurrió hace 20.000 años...

# - Escrito por Fabrizio el 2003-04-08 a las 01:18

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