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The Story of V838 Mon...

In January 2002, a faint star in an obscure constellation suddenlybecame 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun, temporarily making it one of the brightest stars in our Milky Way galaxy. Although back to a more normal brightness, the mysterious star, called V838 Monocerotis, has continued to illuminate the dusty environs in which it lives, uncovering remarkable new features. The phenomenon, known as a "light echo," is providing astronomers with a CAT-scan-like probe of the three-dimensional structure of shells of dust surrounding an aging star.

Most recent epochs of the ever-expanding
light echo surrounding V838 Mon

(Click to enlarge)

Previous Heritage releases of V838 Mon