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Old 09-16-2008, 06:57 AM   #402
alkemical
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http://space.newscientist.com/articl...1_head_dn14738


Space 'firefly' resembles no known object

* 00:06 16 September 2008
* NewScientist.com news service
* Maggie McKee

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The object responsible for the mysterious brightening (right, from observations made in May 2006) is ordinarily too dim to detect (left) (Image: Barbary et al.)
The object responsible for the mysterious brightening (right, from observations made in May 2006) is ordinarily too dim to detect (left) (Image: Barbary et al.)
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* Barbary et al. abstract



An object that brightened intensely and then faded back into obscurity over a period of about seven months is unlike anything astronomers have seen before, a new study reports.

The object, called SCP 06F6, was first spotted in the constellation Bootes in February 2006 in a search for supernovae by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Nothing had been seen at its location before it started to brighten, and nothing was spotted after it dimmed. That suggests it is normally too faint to observe and that it brightened by at least 120 times during its firefly-like episode.

Stars are known to brighten dramatically when they explode as supernovae. But supernovae reach their maximum brightness after about 20 days, and this object took a leisurely 100 days to hit its peak.

The object's spectrum is also bizarre. It does not match that of anything seen in the mammoth Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has mapped more than a quarter of the sky.



The object responsible for the mysterious brightening (right, from observations made in May 2006) is ordinarily too dim to detect (left) (Image: Barbary et al.)
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