Astronomers discover the largest cosmic explosion ever recorded

Astronomers discover the largest cosmic explosion ever recorded
Astronomers discover the largest cosmic explosion ever recorded
Astronomers announced Friday the discovery of the “largest” cosmic explosion ever recorded, a ball of energy 100 times the size of our solar system that suddenly ignited three years ago.

Although scientists have a new explanation for the cause of this phenomenon, they stress the need for further research to find clearer details.

And this phenomenon, which I called “AT2021lwx” (AT2021lwx), is not the brightest of all. It dates back to a gamma-ray burst (a massive explosion of energy during a star fall) “GRB221009A” (GRB221009A), which was discovered in October 2022 and was believed to be the “brightest ever”.

However, this cosmic explosion, which was mentioned in the monthly magazine “Monthly Notice” of the British Royal Astronomical Society, can be described as “the largest”, because within three years it released an unlimited amount of energy that exceeds what results from a gamma-ray burst, according to the study’s lead author, Philip Wiseman. He is an astrophysicist at the University of Southampton, UK.

Wiseman said in an interview with Agence France-Presse that the “AT 2021 LWX” is the result of an “accidental discovery”.

The cosmic explosion was monitored in the year 2020 through the American observatory, “Zwicky Transient Facility” in California. However, the observation of AT2021LWX remained unused in the observatory’s database, Weizmann said, before scientists noticed it the following year.

Direct observation of the phenomenon changed the situation, while an analysis of the light proved that it took eight billion years to reach the telescope.

Astronomers still ask questions about the cause of this phenomenon. It could be a supernova, that is, a massive explosion of a star at the end of its life. But the brightness caused by AT2021LWX is 10 times greater than that produced by the supernova.

The second possibility is that this explosion is an astronomical phenomenon represented by the rupture of a star after it came too close to a supermassive black hole, but the brightness of “AT 2021 LWX” is three times more to prove a similar scenario.

The measured brightness is only comparable to the brightness of quasars, as these galaxies harbor a supermassive black hole that latches onto matter by emitting a massive amount of light.

But the light from quasars is bright, whereas in AT 2021 LWX the light suddenly worsened three years ago. “We’ve never seen a similar phenomenon (…). It seems to come out of nowhere,” Weizmann says.

His team has an idea presented in the study, which is that a huge cloud of gas, the size of 5,000 suns, is being devoured by a supermassive black hole.

Since the principle of science is that “there are no confirmed theories,” the team works on new simulations by using a set of data, with the aim of testing the “deterministic plausibility” of their theory.

But the problem lies in the supermassive black holes that are supposed to be in the center of galaxies, and that the size of “AT 2021 LWX” should be similar to the size of the Milky Way.

No one has yet discovered a galaxy in the vicinity of the observed phenomenon. “It’s a real puzzle,” says Wiseman.

Subsequently, research is required in space and in databases of observations, and it is likely that similar phenomena will help provide clear explanations for AT2021LWX.