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Stellar Mystique and Violence
V838 Monocerotis (the Unicorn) presents a sort of "cloak-and-dagger", combined with mystery:
"Originally believed to be a typical nova eruption, it was then realized to be something completely different. The reason for the outburst is still uncertain..."
This animation is a morph between a number of Hubble images, showing the light echoes expanding around the star (reflected from nebulas and other stellar material expelled earlier)
To really appreciate the immensity and violence of this stellar outburst, here is a video, also showing a blue companion star for comparison.
The brightening was caused by a rapid expanding of the star's outer layer - making this celestial body (at the maximum size) the brightest star in our Galaxy, with a radius comparable to the orbital radius of Jupiter... (originally the star was approximately 5 times larger than our Sun).
The dynamics of brightening are totally unique, and pretty much unexplainable: multiple sharp bursts (with phenomenal speed of expansion), followed by weird lulls.
(image credit: PD-HUBBLE)
The most interesting possibility is that V838 Monocerotis may have swallowed its giant planets.
"If one of the planets entered into the atmosphere of the star, the stellar atmosphere would have begun slowing down the planet, releasing more kinetic energy into the star. The star's envelope would then warm up enough to trigger deuterium fusion, which would lead to rapid expansion. The later peaks may then have occurred when two other planets entered into the expanded envelope." (source)
Today's pictures & links:
Rutan's "Eve" over Mojave
Re: Virgin Galactic's space tourism program -
Alan Radecki sends us images of the "WhiteKnight 2" first flight over the Mojave desert. "VirginMotherShip Eve, otherwise known as a Scaled Composites Model 348 WhiteKnightTwo, took to the air for the first time on Sunday, December 21"
(images credit: Alan Radecki)
Alan gives a great account of this flight on this page. This is what the whole assembly should look like... pretty neat (with a nose art "painted lady" like this you can not fail)
(images credit: Gizmodo)
The Worm Ouroboros
(image credit: wburnsed)
The caption refers to Ouroboros, the snake or dragon that swallows its own tail. Armadillo Lizard?... Or it could be an updated logo for the next version of Firefox.
The Art of Overpasses
To complement out recent Japanese overpasses article, here is Andy Taylor Smith's series "Highways" (and one mysterious light object in a parkade...)
(images credit: Andy Taylor Smith)
Order prints of this artist here.
Mixed fresh links for today:
Strange stuffs left in public spaces (to provoke curiosity) - [cool site]
The Ultimate Furniture Design Catalog - [round-up]
Great Kinetic Optical Illusions - [gallery]
Incredible Photos of Serbia, Belgrade - [flickr set]
Ordinary Objects + Creativity - [cool pics]
Ice Ribbons on a Metal Fence - [wow nature]
The Raptor! - [fun video]
Incredibly low plane landing at St.Martin - [wow video]
Mee Mee: Ode to Joy - [silly video]
Daleks and Star Wars pop up in a strangest places:
Dalek Christmas tree:
(image credit: Lindsey J.)
Part of the WWII Star Wars series:
And another military campaign - on a nano-scale this time:
A Legendary Umbrella Shop in London
"Our man in London" Mark Obstfeld points the way to the world famous James Smith and Sons Umbrella Shop, which was founded in 1830 and is still owned and run as a family business. For 175 years the company has been making umbrellas, sticks and canes for both ladies and gentlemen and their reputation as the home of the London umbrella is well justified.
(images credit: Mark Obstfeld)
"The historic and beautiful shop is on New Oxford Street in the heart of London's West End and is a stunning reminder of the Victorian period. It is a perfect example of Victorian shop front design and has remained virtually unaltered in 140 years."
"The business in umbrellas has always thrived - perhaps because of the English weather, but also because of the outstanding reputation the company has for new umbrellas and their repair service... Much of the business for sticks comes from America where there has always been a shortage of good sticks and canes. One client even asked the company to make him a stick in every English wood possible - he received over 70 sticks in total!" (more info)
Shoe horns and sling seats ("seatsticks") -
More Cool Soviet Retrofuture
Just a little addition to our To The Stars! article, these are very evocative 1950s covers from the Soviet "TM" magazine:
Pretty Cozy Inside?
Yes, as long as -
Get Really Hammered & Sickled! (with a 5-year plan)
"Georgia on my mind" must be the other Georgia, mind you.
Tombstone with a family tree
This is what cats REALLY do in your bathroom:
We saw a video of obsessive-compulsive cat endlessly flushing the toilet, but this graphic shows what more sophisticated cats do instead:
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