Surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur)InternationalIndiaAfricaThe flare-up was first detected in 2020 by the Zwicky Transient Facility in California, which surveys the night sky. The explosion initially remained unnoticed, but after gradually getting brighter follow-up observations, its distance could be calculated, and its scale appreciated.Scientists have captured the largest cosmic explosion ever witnessed, which has been described as a fireball “100 times the size of the solar system” and 10 times brighter than any known supernova. The event has so far lasted over three years and is the most energetic explosion ever recorded.
Named AT2021lwx, the explosion was traced to eight billion light years away and is believed to have been triggered by a giant cloud of gas being consumed by a supermassive black hole.It is thought that the cloud of gas may have originated from the large “doughnut” that typically surrounds black holes, but it is unclear what caused it to be knocked off course from its orbit and consumed by the black hole.Astronomy Student Discovers 17 New Planets, Including Earth-Like One28 February 2020, 22:13 GMTDr. Philip Wiseman, an astronomer at Southampton University who led the observations, said that “in three years, this event has released about 100 times as much energy as the sun will in its 10bn-year lifetime.” The original research has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.As the material spiraled towards the black hole’s event horizon (its spherical outer boundary), it would have given off vast amounts of heat and light, illuminating a portion of the doughnut and heating it to 12,000-13,000 C.Beyond PoliticsRepeating ‘Alien’ Radio Signals From Space May Unlock One of Astronomy’s Mysteries28 April, 13:54 GMTWhile the explosion is not the brightest phenomenon ever witnessed, it has lasted longer than any previously known event, making its overall energy release far greater. The authors speculate that some of the material surrounding supermassive black holes may have been disrupted, possibly by a collision of galaxies, and sent inwards.