Billions of light years away from us, there is a gigantic ball of hot gas that is brighter more than hundreds of billions of suns. It is very difficult to visualize something so bright. So what is it? Astronomers are not really sure, but they have their own fascinating theories. They believe it may be a very rare type of supernova, known as a magnetar. But one so bright and powerful that it takes the energy beyond the limits of physics, or in other words, the most powerful supernova or brightest galactic ball ever seen as of today.
This object is so bright that astronomers are having a really hard time trying to find out a way to explain it. “If it actually is a magnetar, it’s as if nature took entirety everything we identify or know about magnetars and changed it up to 11,” said Krzysztof Stanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University and the team’s member, comedically telling it is off the maps on a scale of 1 to 10.
The object was first discovered by ASAS-SN or “assassin” (All Sky Automated Survey of Supernovae), which is a small setup of telescopes used to find bright things in the cosmos. Though this object is tremendously bright, it still can’t be detected by the naked eye as it is 3.8 billion light-years away.
ASAS-SN (All Sky Automated Survey of Supernovae), in 2014 it started the job and has found almost 250 supernovae, though this discovery, ASASSN-15lh, this is mind-boggling because of its sheer magnitude. It is two hundred (200) times more powerful than the regular supernova, five hundred and seventy (570) billion times luminous than the sun, and twenty (20) times brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (MWG) combined.
Krzysztof Stanek said, “We have to question, how that is even possible? I consumes a lot of energy to shine that bright, and that energy has to come from someplace.”
Todd Thompson, professor of astrophysics at Ohio State, has one possible explanation. The supernova could have created a very unusual type of star known as a millisecond magnetar, a rapidly spinning and very thick star with a strange and strong magnetic field.
This is how strange magnetars are: to shine as bright as it does now, this magnetar would have to spin at any rate 1,000 times a second (approx.), and change all of that rotating energy to light with nearly much 100 percent efficiency, making it the greatest thrilling example of a magnetar that is actually possible.
“Will we ever see something more luminous and brighter than this? If it actually is a magnetar, then the answer is ultimately no.” said, Todd Thompson.
In the coming months, the Hubble Space Telescope will try to answer this mystery by giving the team of astrophysicists’ time to see the host galaxy surrounding this mysterious object. The team of astrophysicists may find that this bright object exists in the very center of a large galaxy, which means the object is not a magnetar at all. And the gas surrounding it actually signs of a supermassive black hole.
Research co-author Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State said, if that is the case, then the luminous light could be illuminated and explained by a new type of event. It would be something new and something that we haven’t seen before at the center of a galaxy.
If it is a magnetar, a supermassive black hole, or something else completely, the results are possibly going to lead to new knowledge of how objects form in the cosmos.
This research was funded mostly by National Science Foundation.