Every 27 years, the star Epsilon Aurigae is swallowed up, and scientists had no idea why. Now, using a special technique that produces images 140 times clearer than the Hubble Space Telescope, we've finally gotten images of it happening.
Researchers at the University of St. Andrews were able to combine light from four different telescopes, to produce the super-clear images of the Epsilon Aurigae eclipse. Here's a video showing it happening:
Scientists weren't sure whether the eclipse was caused by an invisible companion star, a black hole, or some other cause. But now, with these new images, the mystery is solved. Says physicist Ettore Pendretti:
From the image, we can confirm that the eclipse of Epsilon Aurigae is caused by a thin disc of opaque dust trailed by a massive and unseen companion. Like David, tiny particles of dust are able to kill the light of this 'Goliath' star.
It resembles an image from a book by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is like seeing the vessel of the sun, guided by the Maya Arien, being swallowed by the dragon Smaug and plunging Middle Earth in a second-age of darkness. It is a terrifying image.
The results will be published in the journal Nature.