Letter: In the stars

Sir: If the M2-9 butterfly nebula is really 2,100 light years away, and if your splendid photograph (19 December) really shows it 1,200 years ago, congratulations on your scoop: the news won't reach Earth for another 900 years. The office party must have been fun.

RICHARD DAWKINS

Oxford

Charles Arthur writes: The red faces stretch all the way to Nasa, whose official statement on Wednesday said "... the stellar outburst ... occurred just 1,200 years ago". I missed their error. The outburst in fact began 3,000 years ago: the light now reaching us shows its 900th year.

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