A super-powerful double explosion that lasted 17 minutes occurred in the early universe: astronomers are baffled

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
GRBs arise from the collapse of massive stars and their transformation into supernovae. Source: NASA/Swift/Cruz deWilde/Getty/collage OBOZREVATEL

Scientists recorded flashes from a double explosive event of unknown origin, which happened when the universe was only 2 billion years old. But they were surprised not so much by the age of the event, but by its duration, which exceeded all previously known cases.

The scientists reported the observation of the gamma-ray burst (GRB) in a study published on the arXiv preprints website. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed by the scientific community.

The GRB is one of the most powerful explosions in the Universe since the Big Bang. Normally, the duration of such flares varies between a few seconds and a few minutes. But the flare, called GRB 220627A, lasted almost 17 minutes. Nothing like this has ever been recorded by scientists before.

Initial research has established that it is not a single, but a double explosion, which occurred in the time of the "young" Universe, which is now almost 13.8 billion years.

The cause of the explosion scientists can not establish, but are confident that it is not about something extraordinary. Nevertheless, the very fact that the explosion was double and very long - makes them wonder what exactly happened.

The source of the gamma-ray bursts is fairly well known to scientists.

When a massive star reaches the end of its existence, it runs out of fuel. As a result, the star collapses into itself and then explodes outward as a giant supernova. This is how a dead star becomes a neutron star or a black hole.

It is such star explosions that cause powerful bursts of gamma rays that reach Earth and are detected by space observatories.

A gamma-ray burst can also be caused by a collision between two neutron stars.

But in neither case should a GRB last that long. And of all the previously recorded flares, none have been double flares.

However, scientists have a guess as to what exactly might have happened.

As LiveScience notes, to investigate the signal, astronomers studied its afterglow - the fainter and less energetic light that GRBs create when shock waves from the initial explosion crash into the gas and dust surrounding the exploded star.

It turned out that the afterglow, in contrast to the long explosion, was quite normal and looked the same as that of ordinary GRBs lasting a few minutes.

The most likely explanation is that GRBs are the product of gravitational lensing, which was first envisioned by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity in 1915.

Gravitational lensing suggests that massive objects such as galaxies or black holes can distort distant light sources (flares). This causes the flashes to stretch, distort and create an echo of the galaxy's signal before it reaches Earth.

The researchers hypothesized that the presence of a giant black hole or galaxy between us and the GRB source lengthens as well as duplicates its signal.

However, for a definitive answer, they intend to study the strange signal in more detail and also try to find similar anomalous explosions.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL told about the fact that astronomers discovered "Scary Barbie" - a powerful and impressive object, the likes of which they have never seen.

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