Christmas Nebula
Starry Night Nebula

Christmas Nebula
Christmas Nebula
Item# H0410
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Product Description

Space Phenomenon Imitates Art in Universe's Version of van Gogh Painting

This image resembling Vincent van Gogh's painting, "Starry Night," is Hubble's latest view of an expanding halo of light around a distant star, named V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon).

Variable star V838 Monocerotis lies near the edge of our Milky Way Galaxy ,about 20,000 light-years from the Sun. Still, ever since a sudden outburst was detected in January 2002, this enigmatic star has taken the center of an astronomical stage while researchers try to understand where it fits into the picture of stellar evolution. As light from the stellar flash echoes across pre-existing dust shells around V838 Mon, its appearance changes dramatically. Revealed in a sharp snap shot recorded in February by the Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys,this portion of the dust shell is about six light-yearsin diameter. But because light reflected from the dust follows only a slightly indirect path compared to the direct line-of-sight to the star, the light echoes visible noware only lagging about two years behind the outburst itself. Astronomers expect the expanding echoes to continue to light upthe dusty environs of V838 Mon for at least the rest of the current decade.

Credit: HST Text: APOD

Publisher's Comment

Note the 11 Stars. Some people have speculated about the eleven stars in the painting. While it's true that Vincent didn't have the same religious fervour in 1889, when he painted the work, as he did in his earlier years, there is a possibility that the story of Joseph in the Old Testament may have had an influence on the composition of the work.

"Look, I have had another dream' he said, 'I thought I saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars, bowing to me.'" Genesis 37:9.