Astronomers Say They’ve Seen the Biggest Explosion Ever — We Had to Talk to Them • The Record

Astronomers have observed the largest explosion we’ve ever seen in space, a multiyear event involving a supermassive black hole estimated to be a billion times more massive than the Sun.

The explosion, codenamed AT2021lwx, was recorded by ground-based telescopes — the Swicky Transient Facility in California and the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System in Hawaii — in 2020. A team analyzing data from those instruments later realized the capture. was unusually bright, and matched the profile of a supermassive black hole.

„We discovered this by chance because it was flagged by our search algorithm when we were looking for a type of supernova,” said Philip Wiseman, a research associate at the University of Southampton in England, who led the research. Published In Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, said On Friday.

„Most supernova and tidal disruption events last only a couple of months before fading. Staying bright for more than two years is immediately very unusual.”

The brightest burst ever detected from Earth is a gamma ray burst GRB 221009A, which only lasted about ten hours. Although the AT2021lwx is less bright, the energy released over time is greater because the burst continues to burn for years.

The team of astronomers believes this rare event lasted so long because the supermassive black hole at its heart is eating material from a giant gas cloud, which is thousands of times larger than the Sun. As matter is pulled and swallowed by the vacuum, it is compressed into a disc shape. Frictional forces heat the accretion disk and emit beams of electromagnetic energy.

We will have to keep watching to find out

„Usually a supernova, or a Sun-like star that falls into a black hole, lasts a few months because there isn’t enough material to propel them before they disappear,” Wiseman said. Register.

„It has to last a long time because it has a lot of material feeding the black hole. It’s still going, and we can still see it with our telescopes for a few more years. However, these are unpredictable, so there’s a chance that it will suddenly disappear or start to brighten again, and we’ll continue to find it.” Must see.”

READ  Radioactive sediments may have formed Earth's cratons

The supermassive black hole is eight billion light-years away, and is believed to have formed when the universe was about six billion years old – less than half its current age.

An artist’s view of a black hole accretion … Credit: John A. Pies

„With a quasar, we see the brightness flicker up and down over time. But looking back for more than a decade without detecting AT2021lwx, and then suddenly it appears with the brightness of the brightest things in the universe, which is unprecedented,” Wiseman said.

The team will continue to study the outburst, and plans to observe it with spacecraft such as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope or the James Webb Space Telescope in an attempt to hunt down the supermassive black hole.

„This is important because everything we create is processed by stars and ejected into space by supernovae. Black holes and exploding stars carve out galaxies and tell us how the universe and ultimately the solar system and Earth came to be today,” Wiseman told us. ®

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *