Astronomers detect the largest cosmic explosion ever seen -Dlight News

Astronomers detect the largest cosmic explosion ever seen

In the distant universe, a supermassive black hole appears to be devouring a huge cloud of gas, producing an extraordinary explosion the likes of which we have never seen before. So far, it has released about 100 times the total energy the sun will release in its lifetime, and it’s not done yet.

This gigantic inferno, named AT20211wx, was first spotted in 2020 by the Zwicky Transitional Facility in California. philip wise at the University of Southampton in the UK and colleagues conducted a series of follow-up observations with other observatories in the years since. “We see several different big bangs and flashes in the universe, but nothing like what we see here,” says Wiseman.

The only cosmic objects brighter than AT20211wx are quasars, which are caused by a continuous flow of gas toward a supermassive black hole. This burst, which increased in brightness by a factor of more than 15 over the course of about four months and then began to dim steadily, is still going on. The observations seem to point to a supermassive black hole devouring a gigantic cloud of gas, possibly 100 times the size of the solar system or even larger.

These observations could help explain why some relatively small galaxies contain very large black holes. “We thought we knew the main ways black holes grow, but it seems that they might actually also grow in a different way than we thought, with violent and explosive growth episodes,” says Wiseman.

Further analysis of this object could help to elucidate exactly how it works, as well as how black holes behave in general. “Because it’s so big, bright, and long-lasting, it allows us to take a close look at the inner workings of what happens when material falls into a black hole,” says Wiseman.

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