V838 Monocerotis

V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) is a red variable star in the constellation Monoceros about 20,000 light years from the Earth. It was first observed in early 2002 experiencing a major outburst, and it was one of the largest known stars for a short period following the outburst. At first, V838 Mon was thought to be a typical nova eruption, but it is now known to be something completely different. Just what is still uncertain, but a couple of the possibilities are an eruption related to stellar death processes or a merger of a binary star or planets.

The remnant is evolving rapidly. This animation is a morphing sequence between the five individual Hubble images that were taken between 20 May, 2002, and 8 February, 2004.

Video Credit: ESA

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