Tuesday, March 26, 2024

V838 Mon Light Echo | Hubble Space Telescope

V838 Mon Light Echo | Hubble Space Telescope

This is a newly processed image of the binary star system V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon). Called a light echo, the expanding illumination of interstellar dust around the star has been revealing remarkable structures in the dusty cloud ever since the star suddenly brightened in January 2002. V838 Mon temporarily became 600,000 times brighter than our Sun, until it faded in April 2002. It was one of the brightest stars in the entire Milky Way. The reason for the eruption is still unclear.

Judy Schmidt: "This view of the V838 Monocerotis light echo uses color to show the passage of time. As the bright flash of light left the star, it illuminated the dust surrounding it. However, because space is so immense, we see actually see the light travelling and illuminating the dust as it goes along. Each time Hubble looked at the light echo, it revealed only one layer, like the layers of an onion." 

"Here, I've combined multiple layers into a single view, with the innermost one colored red. Next, orange, followed by yellow, green, cyan, blue, and violet. You could say red is the oldest light, and violet is the youngest. The result is a prismatic, rainbow-colored view of the dust cloud."

"As a concept, light echoes are at first confusing, because we are not used to light being anything but an instant on or off. It's my hope that this image makes it a little less confusing, or at least offers one more way to try and understand the light echo. I also wanted to be able to view the dust cloud as a whole and try to make sense of the many flowing, liquidlike patterns within it."

"I've removed the stars from each layer so that they wouldn't be too bright in the end result. Then I re-added them on their own isolated layer in white."

Views from March 2002 to September 2006 were used to create this image.

Technical details: 

Red: 2002-05-20

Orange: 2002-09-02

Yellow: 2002-10-28

Gray: 2002-12-17

Green: 2004-02-08

Cyan: 2004-10-23

Blue: 2005 Oct, Nov, Dec (Multiple Dates)

Violet: 2006-09-09

North is up.

Image Credit: NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

Processing: Judy Schmidt

Release Date: March 25, 2024

#NASA #ESA #Astronomy #Space #Hubble #Star #V838Mon #IRAS070150346 #Monoceros #Constellation #Cosmos #Universe #SpaceTelescope #GSFC #STScI #JudySchmidt #CitizenScience #UnitedStates #Europe #STEM #Education

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