Gigantic Cosmic Explosion 100 Times Bigger Than Our Solar System, Potentially Triggered by Supermassive Black Hole

By:Ms. Elsa Chan

Researchers Discover Largest Cosmic Explosion Ever Seen
Cosmic Explosion 100 Times Size of Our Solar System Is Largest Ever Seen

Scientists have recently discovered the largest cosmic explosion ever seen, known as the "Ophiuchus" blast. This explosion, which is believed to have occurred 390 million light-years away near the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster, is said to be 100 times larger than our solar system.

What makes this explosion even more intriguing is that it is 2 trillion times brighter than the sun, leading scientists to speculate that it may have been caused by a supermassive black hole sending shockwaves through a cloud of cosmic gas.

The discovery was made by a team of researchers from various institutions, including NASA, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton telescope. The team has been conducting multi-wavelength observations of the Ophiuchus cluster for over a decade and stumbled upon the explosion while analyzing data from X-ray and radio telescopes.

"We've seen outbursts in the centers of galaxies before, but this one is really, really massive," said Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).

The blast is estimated to have released five times more energy than the previous largest known outburst, which was recorded in 2016 and was 50 times larger than this latest explosion.

Based on the data gathered, researchers believe that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Ophiuchus cluster had interacted with nearby gas, triggering an explosion that ejected hot gas and plasma out of the cluster. The resulting shockwave is estimated to have travelled at speeds of up to 620 miles per second.

"The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove," said Simona Giacintucci, lead author of the study and from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. "This is the clincher that tells us an eruption of unprecedented size occurred here."

In addition to unveiling new insights into the workings of black holes and galaxy clusters, the discovery of the Ophiuchus blast could also help astronomers to better understand the mysterious phenomenon of dark energy, which is thought to be the force behind the expanding universe.

As for the team of researchers behind the discovery, they are already looking ahead to their next set of observations of the Ophiuchus cluster. "The Ophiuchus cluster is a treasure trove of data. There's so much going on there that we're continuing to analyze, and we're not done yet," said Johnston-Hollitt.

The discovery of the Ophiuchus blast marks yet another milestone in the study of the cosmos. As researchers continue to uncover new and fascinating information about the universe, it remains to be seen what other discoveries lie in wait, and how they will shape our understanding of the stars, galaxies, and beyond.

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