What caused this outburst of this star named V838 Mon? For reasons unknown, this star’s outer surface suddenly greatly expanded with the result that it became the brightest star in the entire Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002. Then, just as suddenly, it faded. A stellar flash like this had never been seen before – supernovas and novas expel matter out into space.
Although the V838 Mon flash appears to expel material into space, what is seen in the above GIF from the Hubble Space Telescope is actually an outwardly moving light echo of the bright flash.
In a light echo, light from the flash is reflected by successively more distant rings in the complex array of ambient interstellar dust that already surrounded the star. V838 Mon lies about 20,000 light years away toward the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros), while the light echo above spans about six light years in diameter.
Another humans are weird thing, inspired by that one epic
post on touching blue octopi and cone snails, and why you don’t ever fucking do
Humans love bright-colored things. We love butterflies; we
keep parrots and certain snakes as pets; and we breed plants and some animal
species specifically to make them more brightly colored. We paint our nurseries
bright, primary colors, we dye our clothes, we even color our own hair...
From any reasonable alien’s perspective, this is insane.
Polly, the parrot: Polly wanna cracker!
Jut, the carnivore: What is that??!
Osheen, the human: That’s my parrot! They’re a bird from the
equatorial regions of earth. They are very intelligent and can be taught to
(first-bud-opens), the autotroph: It’s pretty! Strange,
though; I thought humans were omnivores.
Osheen: We are?
(first-bud-opens): But… aren’t bright colors unsettling, for
a heterotrophic species? Jut is trembling.
Polly: Wanna cracker! Now, pitiful mortal!
Osheen: Haha, well, I admit the speech can be a little strange,
but birds can be pretty smart! About on the scale of your yini, Jut. Here, give
her a cracker.
Jut: Is it poisonous?
Osheen: Well, she’s not venomous. Never tried to take a bite
of her myself.
Jut, quietly, to (first-bud-opens): …humans.
Zie does not give her a cracker.
…because bright colors are an indication of actual poison,
and what’s the first thing humans do when they see something bright? Oh, yes, do our very best to touch it. Maybe take it as a pet. And it’s
not like we don’t know that bright
colors indicate poison. We know and then
we touch stuff anyway. Humans are crazy.
With the cats and cat furniture being gone, there was so much empty space, so we moved some furniture around… here is my new and improved study space as a result. We got some new, brighter curtains too, which has completely changed the feel of the room. Light and flowers are definitely helping with the healing process 🌿