Astronomers on Thursday detected the biggest explosion seen in the Universe since the Big Bang, originating from a supermassive black hole. The blast occurred in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster, about 390 million light-years from Earth and was five times more powerful than the previous record holder. It was so powerful it punched a cavity in the cluster plasma—the super-hot gas surrounding the black hole. World Media Targets BJP Over Delhi Violence
Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, stated that the event was extraordinarily powerful. ‘We’ve seen explosion in the centres of galaxies before but this one is really, really huge. But it happened very slowly-like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years,” she stated.
Lead author of the study Dr Simona Giacintucci, from the Naval Research Laboratory in the United States, said that this blast was similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, which wrench the top off the mountain. ‘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,’ she said. Professor Johnston-Hollitt said the cavity in the cluster plasma had been witnessed previously with X-ray telescopes. But scientists initially dismissed the idea that it could have been caused by an powerful outburst, because it would have been too big.The discovery was made using four telescopes; NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s XMM-Newton, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Western Australia and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India.
Professor Johnston, who is the director of the MWA and an expert in galaxy clusters stated, “We’ve been given the tools to dig deeper with low-frequency radio telescopes so we should be able to discover more explosive like this now.’ Going back and doing a multi-wavelength study has really made the difference here,’ she further added. She also said the finding is likely to be the first of many. ‘We made this discovery with Phase 1 of the MWA, when the telescope had 2048 antennas pointed towards the sky. We’re soon going to be gathering observations with 4096 antennas, which should be ten times more sensitive. She remarked..