Astronomers just witnessed Biggest Explosion in the History of the Universe

By: | March 3rd, 2020

Credit: (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Naval Research Lab/Giacintucci, S.; XMM:ESA/XMM; Radio: NCRA/TIFR/GMRTN; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF)

Astronomers while studying a distant galaxy cluster discovered the biggest explosion ever observed in the Universe since the Big Bang. The blast came from a supermassive black hole at the centre of Ophiuchus galaxy cluster. This galaxy cluster is hundreds of millions of light-years away. As per this new study, it released five times more energy than the previous record holder.

Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, co-author of the paper, said, “We’ve seen outbursts in the centres of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive,” “And we don’t know why it’s so big.

This gigantic blast was extremely slow. ¬†Johnston-Hollitt explained, “But it happened very slowly — like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years.”

Scientists discovered this explosion using four telescopes across the globe.

They found the explosion was so powerful that it punched a hole in the plasma surrounding the black hole.  

Simona Giacintucci, lead author, compared this massive explosion to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Eruption of Mount St. Helens is one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in US history.

Giacintucci said, “The difference is that you could fit 15 Milky Way galaxies in a row into the crater this eruption punched into the cluster’s hot gas,”

“The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove,” co-author Maxim Markevitch from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said in the statement. “This is the clincher that tells us an eruption of unprecedented size occurred here.”

Scientists are hopeful that this discovery could open doors for further discoveries.

“It’s a bit like archaeology,” Johnston-Hollitt said. “We’ve been given the tools to dig deeper with low frequency radio telescopes so we should be able to find more outbursts like this now.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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