The text and images in this article were originally published on March 4, 2003, and reflect information about V838 Monocerotis available at that time.
Space Phenomenon Imitates Art in Universe’s Version of Van Gogh Painting
Night,” Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting, is renowned for its bold
whorls of light sweeping across a raging night sky. Although this image of the
heavens came only from the artist’s restless imagination, a new picture from
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope bears remarkable similarities to the van Gogh
work, complete with never-before-seen spirals of dust swirling across trillions
of miles of interstellar space.
This image, obtained with
the Advanced Camera for Surveys on February 8, 2004, is Hubble’s latest view of
an expanding halo of light around a distant star, named V838 Monocerotis (V838
Mon). The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star
at the middle of the image, which gave off a flashbulb-like pulse of light two
years ago. V838 Mon is located about 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the
direction of the constellation Monoceros, placing the star at the outer edge of
our Milky Way galaxy.
Called a light echo, the
expanding illumination of a dusty cloud around ...