Researchers of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy discovered an explosion in a supermassive black hole. This black hole is located at the center of the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster which is 390 million light-years from Earth. This is the largest explosion ever observed since the Big Bang.
“We’ve seen outbursts in the centers of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive,” Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, professor at the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and co-author of the paper uploaded to preprint archive arXiv earlier this month, said in a statement.
“And we don’t know why it’s so big.”
Simona Giacintucci, from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, the lead author compares this explosion to the Mount St Helen’s explosion, which was a violent volcanic eruption in history.
“The 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,” said Giacintucci.
“It happened very slowly — like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years,” Johnston-Hollitt said.
NASA scientists were able to confirm the unprecedented blast. “The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove,” co-author Maxim Markevitch from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said in the statement. “This is the clincher that tells us an eruption of unprecedented size occurred here.”
This discovery could be useful in future discoveries as such.
Johnston-Hollitt says it’s like archaeology. They are provided tools such as radio telescopes, to dig deeper to discover more such outbursts.
The research team plans to double the number of telescopes used, to increase the sensitivity to discover further.