Among the possibilities suggested was that V838 Mon a normal star that had collided with another star or swallowed three planets. The idea that no white dwarf was involved gained support from follow-up observations, reported in October 2006, which showed that V838 Mon is a member of a cluster of stars that is much too young for any to have reached the white dwarf stage.
Still, the collision or planet-swallowing scenarios are not easy to square with all that is known about V838 Mon. As the light from the outburst has travelled out into space, it has lit up material nearby, creating halo-like light echoes. These have revealed that a lot of material surrounds V838 Mon, which may have been thrown out by the star in previous outbursts. If correct, this would appear to rule out a collision with another star, which is a one-off event. It also makes the planet-swallowing hypothesis seem far-fetched. Not only would three planets be needed to make the three peaks seen in 2002, but more planets would have to have been engulfed by the star in the past to explain the pre-existing material.
Related category• NOTABLE STARS
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