The event took place in the galaxy Ophiuchus, 390 million light-years from Earth, opening a “crater” equivalent to 15 times the size of the Milky Way.
It was studying the galaxy Ophiuchus, 390 million light-years from Earth, that a group of astronomers detected the largest space explosion ever recorded.
In an article published in The Astrophysical Journal, the team reported that this was the biggest event of its kind since the Big Bang, which formed our Universe 13.8 billion years ago.
It was big, and we don’t know why
“We’ve seen explosions in the centers of galaxies before, but this one is really big – and we don’t know why,” Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, one of the researchers, said in a statement. “But it happened very slowly, like a slow-motion explosion that took place over hundreds of millions of years.”
Simona Giacintucci, the study’s lead author, compares the event to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helena, in the United States, which tore off the top of the mountain. “The difference is that you can place 15 galaxies [the size] of the Milky Way in the crater that this ‘eruption’ caused “, she exemplified.
It has been observed before
The team says that evidence of the explosion was observed some time ago, but the researchers doubted the data, as they thought the event was too big, bigger than anything that had already been observed, so they concluded that there must have been some error with the equipment or the calculations could be wrong.
However, months of studies later, and thanks to the use of various astronomical equipment, they noticed that the explosion had indeed taken place.
“The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove,” said co-author Maxim Markevitch. “This is the clincher that tells us an eruption of unprecedented size occurred here.”