Recently, astronomers have detected the biggest explosion ever since the big bang, originating from a supermassive black hole.
Astronomers were studying a distant galaxy cluster when they detected what may be the biggest explosion seen in the universe since the big bang.
The explosion was extremely slow and took place over hundreds of millions of years. It came from a supermassive black hole at the center of the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster some 390 million light-years from Earth.
So, the black holes don’t just draw matter in. They also blast out jets of material and energy.
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“We’ve seen outbursts in the centers of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive,” Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, professor at the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and co-author of the paper uploaded to preprint archive arXiv earlier this month, said in a statement. “And we don’t know why it’s so big.”
The explosion released five times more energy than the previous record holder. It was so large that it literally cut a hole in the hot gas that could hold 15 Milky Ways.
Professor Johnston-Hollitt said astronomers had previously seen the hole in the cluster plasma with X-ray telescopes. But they initially dismissed the idea that an energetic outburst may have caused it. That’s because it would have been too big.
“People were skeptical because of the size of outburst,” she said. “But it really is that. The Universe is a weird place.”
For this discovery, the researchers used four telescopes across the globe, including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory.
This discovery emphasizes the importance of studying the Universe at different wavelengths.
The discovery could open doors for further discoveries like it.
“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.”