June 5, 2023

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Astronomers see the largest explosion in space to date

Astronomers witnessed the most energetic cosmic explosion yet, which they believe is caused by a gas cloud being torn apart by a supermassive black hole.

The outburst (named AT2021lwx) occurred billions of light-years away and was first spotted in 2020. But it has now gone on for more than three years, indicating the huge amount of material involved in the event. It was the research team describing the explosion published Today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“Once you know the distance to the object and how bright it is to us, you can calculate the object’s brightness at its source,” said Sebastian Honig, an astronomer at the University of Southampton and one of the paper’s authors. in the University launch. “Once we did those calculations, we realized this was pretty cool.”

The massive explosion dwarfs an explosion The boat (or the brightest of all time), a gamma-ray burst detected last year. The boat is still the brightest known explosion, but it It was fleeting compared to the AT2021lwx’s multi-year rush.

The explosion is bright as a quasar – an active galactic nucleus with a supermassive black hole at its heart, which appears very bright in the sky. But unlike a quasar, AT2021lwx recently appeared in the sky. The team believes the event was caused by interactions between a cloud and a supermassive black hole.

Black holes are The densest objects in the universe. Its gravity is so enormous that not even light can escape from the event horizons. Once just a theoretical scientist (Mysterious objects were first predicted by Einstein), Since then, the black hole’s shadows have been imaged by massive radio telescopeswhich indicates the researchers in for the details of their extreme physics.

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The latest astronomy team believes the explosion was caused by errant gas (or dust) from a cloud orbiting the black hole, which fell into the superdense object. From our point of view, Matter is still falling into the black hole, but the explosion happened nearly 8 billion years ago.

Philip Wiseman, an astronomer at the University of Southampton and lead author of the paper, said in the same release. “These events, although very rare, can be so energetic that they are fundamental processes of how the centers of galaxies change over time.”

The ancient study of space and time will benefit from The world’s largest digital camera to photograph the night sky every 15 secondsgiving astronomers around the world a dynamic new view of an ever-changing universe.

The team plans to collect X-ray data on the explosion, among other wavelengths of light, to better understand the origins of the massive explosion.

More: What we learned from the first image of a black hole