NASA detects a super-powerful explosion that shook the entire cosmos
Astronomers managed to record a super-powerful explosion in space, which they have already called the brightest in history, or simply BOAT (an acronym for the brightest of all time). Its brightness was 70 times higher than any other explosion previously observed, and the shock wave was recorded by many satellites and even one of the Voyager spacecraft.
The scientists described the outburst in an article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. They emphasise that a flare of this brightness reaches the Earth no more than once every 10,000 years.
The explosion was caused by the collapse of a colossal star. It was named GRB 221009A because it was a gamma-ray burst (GRB - from gamma-ray burst). The so-called long GRBs, which last more than two seconds, are formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses into a black hole.
As a result of such an event, powerful jets of matter are ejected, which, colliding with the gas around the former star, produce high-energy gamma-ray radiation.
Astronomers search for GRBs on an ongoing basis, so it was no lucky break that the explosion was recorded. A research team working with NASA's Neil G. Swift Observatory receives a notification every time the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) spots a new GRB.
"This one was bright enough for BAT to trigger twice," said Maya Williams, an astronomer from the University of Pennsylvania and lead author of one of the articles about GRB 221009A.
According to PopSci, in addition to the BAT telescope, the flash was also seen by instruments on more than two dozen satellites. Among them are the NICER X-ray telescope on the International Space Station, NASA's NuSTAR X-ray telescope, NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite, and even one of the Voyager spacecraft.
With so much information available about BOAT, astronomers realised that this flare was "more complex than ordinary GRBs".
Scientists explain the brightness of the flare by the fact that it occurred relatively close to us - at a distance of about 1.9 billion light years. Astronomers explain that it is as close as if you were standing close to a light bulb when it is switched on. But, scientists note, it's not just about proximity.
"A flare of this brightness only reaches Earth once every 10,000 years... in fact, (it is) the most energetic flare ever observed," explained Louisiana State University associate professor of astronomy Eric Burns, who participated in the discovery.
Astronomers also note that, by a lucky coincidence, the jets that burst out of the black hole were directed directly at the Earth and were already normal. Scientists are not sure why this happened.
"From a scientific point of view, BOAT has proven that most existing models of these events are incomplete," Burns said.
A gamma-ray burst has a peak brightness in the first moments of its existence, but astronomers assume that in the case of BOAT, the glow will last for years.
Williams and her team plan to continue their weekly observations of BOAT for as long as they can get them to gain as much information as possible about this rare phenomenon.
"BOAT is so important because it's one of those events that breaks down what we know. It is a truly unique phenomenon. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Sarah Dulessi, an astrophysicist and PhD student at the University of Alabama who participated in the discovery.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told about a black hole in a distant galaxy that turned around, directing a beam towards the Earth.
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