Biggest explosion ever! This astounding space eruption lasted 3 years; computers still at work

Astronomers have observed the most luminous explosion in the universe, occurring at the farthest reaches, and astonishingly, it has been unfolding continuously for nearly three years.

| Updated on: May 16 2023, 18:23 IST
Asteroid alert! NASA reveals 5 space rocks speeding towards Earth TODAY
1/5 Asteroid 2023 GM1 – Asteroid 2023 GM1, which is 38 feet wide, will make its closest approach to Earth today, April 17. The asteroid is already rushing towards Earth at a speed of 22981 kilometers per hour and will miss the planet by a distance of just 839,000 kilometers. (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2023 GU – Another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 GU is heading for Earth and will make a close approach today, April 17. This asteroid, with a width between 75 feet and 167 feet, is heading for Earth at a blistering speed of 40182 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a distance of 4.1 million kilometers. (WikiMedia Commons)
3/5 Asteroid 2023 GM– Asteroid 2023 GM, which is almost 350 feet wide, is heading for Earth and will make a close approach today, April 17. This asteroid is heading for Earth at a fearsome speed of 72312 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a close distance of 3.2 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
4/5 Asteroid 2023 HB – Asteroid 2023 HB will make its closest approach to Earth today, April 17. It is tiny is size with a width of between 9.4 feet, as per NASA. The asteroid will come closer than the Moon, making its closest approach at just 195,000 kilometers and is already moving at a fiery speed of 44087 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2022 GO – The fifth asteroid, with a width of between 72 feet and 160 feet, is named Asteroid 2022 GO and will be making its closest Earth approach today, April 17. It will come as close as 7 million kilometers, according to NASA. The asteroid is moving at a staggering speed of 24060 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
Biggest explosion ever
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Astronomers have witnessed the biggest ever explosion in space. ( John A. Paice)

In a shocking turn of events, astronomers have observed the largest explosion in space, called AT2021lwx, which has been ongoing for three years and is 10 times brighter than any known supernova. It is also three times brighter than the light emitted during tidal disruption events (TDEs) caused by supermassive black holes. The explosion occurred 8 billion light-years away when the universe was 6 billion years old. Initially detected by the Zwicky Transient Facility and later confirmed by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), the event's true scale and power were recently discovered.

AT2021lwx is believed to be the result of a black hole violently disrupting a massive cloud of gas, emitting bright electromagnetic radiation as shockwaves spread through the gas and a surrounding dust torus. While similar events have been observed before, AT2021lwx stands out due to its unprecedented scale. Although not as bright as the gamma-ray burst GRB 221009A, AT2021lwx has released more energy over its entire lifetime.

To determine the explosion's distance and brightness, the researchers used multiple telescopes and analyzed the emitted light's spectrum. AT2021lwx's exceptional brightness is comparable only to quasars emitted by supermassive black holes. Surprisingly, there were no previous detections of AT2021lwx, making its sudden appearance with the brightest intensity ever recorded a unique phenomenon.

While other explanations exist, the favored theory suggests a large cloud of hydrogen or dust was dislodged from its orbit and drawn into the black hole. Additional data collection and computer simulations will help confirm this hypothesis. The team plans to study the explosion in different light wavelengths, including X-rays, to understand its temperature and driving processes.

The researchers are eager to discover more events like AT2021lwx with the help of upcoming facilities such as the Vera Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time. Understanding these rare but highly energetic events could provide insights into the evolution of galaxy centers over time.

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First Published Date: 16 May, 18:22 IST
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