A group of astronomers announced last Friday the “biggest cosmic explosion” recorded to date, a ball of energy whose burst is equivalent to one hundred times the size of our solar system.
The scientists believe they have an explanation for the phenomenon, but cautioned that more research is needed to reach a definitive conclusion.
The event, cataloged as AT2021lwx, is not the brightest. That honor goes to a gamma ray outbreak (the electromagnetic explosion of a supernova) named GRB221009A, detected in October 2022 and which has been defined as “the most luminous of all time.”
This new explosion AT2021lwx actually occurred three years ago, and the Monthly Notices of the British Royal Astronomical Society describes it as the largest because in this period of time it has released much more energy than a burst of gamma rays.
It was “an accidental discovery,” the study’s lead author, Philip Wiseman, an astrophysicist at the British University of Southampton, told AFP.
The explosion had been detected in 2020, automatically, by the US Zwicky Transient Facility observatory in California. But the phenomenon “was stored in the database” of the observatory, according to Wiseman, before the scientists took it out of the drawer again, the following year.