Science

Scientists discover biggest explosion in universe since Big Bang

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 02, 2020 Published on February 29, 2020

The observations have revealed a huge explosion since Big Bang. Credit: Screenshot from NASA website

Astronomers have discovered the biggest explosion in the universe since the Big Bang, in a galaxy far away.

An explosion five times bigger than any explosion known so far has been discovered in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster 390 million light-years from Earth. The scientists responsible for the discovery have published their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

The scientists first discovered a huge dent in the Ophiuchus cluster back in 2016 through X-Ray data. The possibility of the giant cavity in the cluster’s plasma, which is the layer of super-hot gas surrounding the galaxy’s black hole was dismissed as “unlikely” back in 2016. However, after gathering radio data from the galaxy and comparing it to the X-Ray data which concluded the existence of the dent, scientists have confirmed that it is indeed a result of a giant explosion in the galaxy.

"The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove," said co-author Dr Maxim Markevitch from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center as quoted in a Forbes report.

“The eruption is said to have left a giant dent in the curious concave gas density discontinuity at the edge of its cool core,” reads the report published by the scientists in the Astrophysical Journal.

“The sloshing itself could have been set off by this extraordinary explosion if it had occurred in an asymmetric gas core,” it further reads.

Explaining the scale of the explosion, co-author Melanie Johnston-Hollitt told BBC that the explosion would be like “setting off 20 billion, billion megaton TNT explosions every thousandth of a second for the entire 240 million years.”

Simona Giacintucci of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC and lead author of the research paper published today in The Astrophysical Journal said that the explosion is so huge that the crater left by it could "fit 15 Milky Way galaxies in a row,” as per the Forbes report.

Scientists will further study the explosion, the findings of which could help them discover more explosions similar to this. The repercussions of the discovery for Earth is unclear.

The discovery was made using X-Ray data gathered from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton. The radio telescopes used to collect radio data were from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India.

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Published on February 29, 2020
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