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‘Champagne Supernova’? | A Timelapse of a Distant Star’s ‘Light Echo’

By Kishore Sawh on June 22nd 2014


Have you ever noticed that once you get on board a seafaring vessel of some kind, the world and its words as you know them cease to exist? Everything becomes nautical; It’s all ‘port’, ‘starboard,’ ‘stern,’ and ‘heading,’ and ‘knot,’ and ‘beating to windward.’ It’s a different arena. Take it a step further and you’ll have aviation, and then further still, and out of this world, and you’ll have anything to do with space. Whether it actually IS the final frontier, we may never know, but what we do know if it is simply astonishing.

[REWIND: An Embryo Timelapse Helps Doctors ‘Play God?’]

The sheer numbers are mind boggling from the fact that it would take a space shuttle to go 17,500mph just to break out of our atmosphere, then instead of measuring distances in miles, you begin speaking in light years. Actual ‘light’ years. You can’t even speak of light years with the assumption of Earthly vernacular, you must be precise to say that a light year is not just how far light would travel in a year, but it’s how far it travels in a Julian yearwhile in a vacuum.


So it goes without question that an explosion in space, is cinematic. The scope of it all is as wide as the heavens and everything is violent. SO when V838 Monocerotis, a red variable star in the Monoceros constellation that lays some 20 thousand light years away let out a major outburst in 2002. At its peak, it was 600,000 times our Sun’s luminosity.

It was spectacular – though your eyes on Earth couldn’t appreciate it. So much measuring of universal things have photography largely to thank, and it is through photography that we were able to see this event. The Hubble Space Telescope recorded these images, and what we have here to see is a timelapse. A short time-lapse of an enormous, gorgeous spacial starburst. Que ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ but with the lyrics of “Champagne Supernova.”

The details of the burst can be found here.

Sources: &


A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Michael Chapman

    Wow. VERY nice. Buzz Lightyear would love that one. :)

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