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Telescope shoots video of heavenly halo

By Jim Borg

LAST UPDATED: 8:28 a.m. HST, Jul 1, 2011

The Internet is abuzz about the "mystery flash" filmed from Mauna Kea.

The pre-dawn phenomenon, which looks like a huge bubble expanding and then popping, was recorded June 22 by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and the Subaru Telescope.

Since then, speculation has run rampant about the source of the early morning flash.

Ichi Tanaka, a support astronomer at Subaru Telescope, describes it as "a huge halo of light above the eastern horizon," adding, "It was slowly expanding to over 45 degrees in five minutes or more."

The most popular hypothesis is that the flash relates to the launch of a Minuteman III missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The Air Force routinely launches missiles across the Pacific to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. On the morning in question, there was a launch at 3:35 a.m. Hawaii time, Vandenberg confirmed.

That's just minutes before the flash.

Speculation is that the bubble was a shock wave as the missile flew through the upper atmosphere. Or maybe it was fuel expanding in space from the separation of the third stage.

Or, as a blogger from Discover Magazine lightly proposed, it could be a wormhole from the Pegasus Galaxy.

You choose.


On the Net:

See a video of the event by Kanoa Withington of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope:

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