Here’s a starry poem one might call ekphrastic
about an exploding fireball fantastic
from a ‘nova’, imaged with time-lapse clarity,
all the more remarkable for the rarity
of tracking its expansion– which researchers say
engulfs a place in outer space in just a day
as great as where the orbit of our Earth holds its sway,
at a distance of fifteen thousand light years away,
passing that of Jupiter in less than two weeks–
through some challenging magnification techniques…
Six telescopes collaborated in the huge task
of measuring its size and shape, so as to unmask
the colossal ferocity, albeit remote,
of its “dramatic process”, to astronomers quote.
The eruption that occurred was in the location
of Delphinus– Latin for Dolphin– Constellation.
What causes these spectacular events to arise?
When any of the two of a binary star dies,
as a consequence of its empyrean demise,
it becomes ‘white dwarf’ companion to the larger one.
Then this parasitic partner has some fiendish fun…
In some sort of star-struck, degenerate devotion,
it siphons enough hydrogen to form an ocean
on its surface, till it reaches the critical mass
that will make a brobdingnagian blast come to pass.
Now this formerly faint star system takes center stage
to indeed ‘against the dying of the light, rage, rage’…
A tremendous fireball is hurled into the skies–
so brilliant that it’s visible with unaided eyes…
Thus it burns out its bright celestial futurity
in that bumpy ride to recurrent obscurity.
Novae may play second fiddle to the ‘super’ kind–
their bigger stellar cousins– in the popular mind,
still these marvelous phenomena my awe inspire–
as does that Dylan Thomas villanelle I admire…
But it was wild man Lewis who captured them entire,
when he belted out, “Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!”
~ Harley White
< November 3, 2014 >
Copyright © Harley White | Year Posted 2014
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