The responsible for the explosion was probably a black hole. The result? A deformation of 750,000 light-years across a galaxy.
Imagine an explosion in space the size of 15 Milky Way. Well, an overflow of the type happened – and it was the biggest one detected by scientists. It could be observed thanks to mega powerful telescopes – such as those from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton.
What astronomers noticed was a strange scenario in a place far, far away from Earth – 390 million light years, to be more precise. It is the galaxy cluster of Ophiuchus, which has a black hole with a mass equivalent to ten million suns at its center. As the hole is in the spotlight, it is not surprising that he is responsible for the explosion, is it not? At least that’s what the researchers believe. But we will get there already.
This strange scenario was nothing short of a big curve at the edge of the Ophiuchus cluster. The region is made up of large amounts of hot gas (pink part of the image below). It was bordered by an emptiness dominated by radio waves (blue part), which are almost as fast as the speed of light.
Despite being known for their ability to “vacuum” everything around them, black holes are also able to expel matter in the form of plasma jets (an ionized gas). Scientists believe that the explosion happened because an entire galaxy fell in the hole, an event that produced a large amount of gas. When the jets are thrown into space, they hit other materials causing explosions. You can already understand more or less the idea of the thing, right?
Scientists had already identified the exotic curve as early as 2016, but they thought the anomaly was too big to be an explosion – because, for its size of 750,000 light-years across, the required energy produced would be too high. They bet, then, that it was just the effect of the gas expelled through the black hole. But four years later, the anomaly was still there to prove that the hypothesis was wrong.
The explosion is no longer happening and the black hole is no longer active. Probably, there was no fuel left to continue expelling plasma after the record-breaking explosion – which is five times greater than the one that held the title until then. It scares just to imagine. You can see more details about the mega explosion in the video below.