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Enigmatic Eruption

The strange case of V838 Monocerotis

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1:36pm, October 8, 2006

An erupting star near the outskirts of the Milky Way has become one of the most puzzling objects in the galaxy. The star's outburst has set aglow a never-before-seen array of dust eddies, shells, and spirals—a cosmic portrait reminiscent of the whirling patterns of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." But even as astronomers marvel at the artistic display generated by the distant star, dubbed V838 Monocerotis, they're stumped by its behavior.

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