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Recurrent Eruption: Explosive stellar saga

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8:00pm, July 19, 2006

Imagine the blast of a nuclear bomb as heavy as Earth and you'll get some idea of the energy unleashed in each of the six thermonuclear explosions that have ripped off the outer layers of a dense, nearby star in the past 108 years.

During the star's most recent outburst, which occurred in February, astronomers obtained their sharpest look yet at this recurrent type of explosion, called a nova, as well as new insights into the most powerful of known stellar eruptions, the supernova.

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