Astronomers who had their eyes set on a distant galaxy cluster just witnessed the biggest explosion witnessed in the universe since the Big Bang.
The record-breaking explosion was created by a black hole that is 390 million light-years away in the Ophiuchus cluster, and it truly dwarfs all others. The new study reports that it released five times more energy than the previous record holder.
Simone Giacintucci, who is the study lead author, scaled the phenomenon in a neat way by saying, “In some ways, this blast is similar to how the eruption of Mr. St. Helens in 1980 ripped off the top of the mountain. A key difference is that you could fit 15 Milky Way galaxies in a row into the crater this eruption punched into the cluster's hot gas.”
Mount St. Helens is one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in US history, which is mind-blowing to think about.
According to the authors, there’ve been outbursts in the centers of galaxies before but not as big as this one. They truly don’t know why it’s so big.
The discovery was made with four telescopes across the globe. As it was spotted by the X-ray telescope, it could be clearly seen that the violent explosion punched a hole in the plasma around the black hole.
Moreover, it seemed to happen in slow motion. The researchers explained that the process felt like it took place over millions of years.
Discoveries such as these never cease to amaze us, and they clear the way for more observations. It is reported that the team’s next move will be making further observations with more antennas and increased sensitivity tenfold.
The study "Discovery of a giant radio fossil in the Ophiuchus Galaxy Cluster" was published in The Astrophysical Journal.