Hubble views unexplained 200-day light source

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

Washington (DC) - NASA announced yesterday that in May, 2006, a huge unidentified light source was visible for 200 days. The spectrum of light it showed up in does not correlate to any known phenomena. NASA is at a loss to explain its origins.





NASA refers to the phenomena as "the bizarre Hubble observation" and "a mysterious flash of light from somewhere near or far in the universe," one that's "still keeping astronomers in the dark long after it was first detected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2006," according to NASA.



In truth, no one knows what it is. The "spectral fingerprints" do not align with any previously observed phenomenon. The fact that they don't even know if it's "near or far" is also very telling. NASA's researchers said, "It might represent an entirely new class of stellar phenomena."



The bright flash of light shows up as little more than a white dot in a relatively black background (shown here heavily JPG distorted, follow the NASA link below or a larger view). Previously observed similar phenomenon have been supernovae or other known explosions in space showing up with a particular pattern in the EM spectrum.






Dubbed SCP 06F6, this new light source appeared by rising steadily in brightness over 100 days, then dimming back to black over the next 100 days. It lasted a total fo 200 days. According to NASA, supernovae typically have a peak after no more than 70 days, with a more typical event cycle of just a few weeks.



Published papers on the phenomena to date have offered "a bizarre zoo of possibilities," according to NASA. These include "the core collapse and explosion of a carbon rich star," along with "a collision between a white dwarf and an asteroid," or even "the collision of a white dwarf with a black hole."



Kyle Barbary of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), said he does not believe any model offered so far fully explains what's been seen. He said, "I don’t think we really know what the discovery means until we can observe similar objects in the future."



[On a personal note, I find it interesting that we learn about these things only after a few years of internal study and scrutiny. The same has been true of images sent back from Mars. This unexplained light source has now been released to the public, but I can't help but wonder what else they've seen out there, yet aren't telling us about. -Rick]



See NASA's press release.