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Mysterious, Never-Before Seen Cosmic Explosion Puzzles Astronomers

Scientists say that the unknown source produced 1,000 times more energy than all the stars in that galaxy combined. The event occurred in the constellation Fornax (in the Southern Sky). Astronomers say they have observed a completely NEW type of Cosmic CATACLYSMIC event.

Scientists were studying the deepest X-ray image of the universe to date and within it, they discovered evidence of a MASSIVE, unexplained explosion originating from a galaxy located some 10.7 billion light-years away.
Astronomers detected this large and mysterious explosion in the constellation Fornax in October 2014.NASA/CXC/Pontifical Catholic Univ./F.Bauer et al.

Experts say that no known astronomical phenomenon can explain this behavior.

A mysterious and powerful “flash” of X-rays has been detected by experts operating NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

They’ve located it while studying what is, until now, the deepest X-ray image of the Universe obtained in that wavelength. Scientists argue that it is possible that the source of this emission is some kind of extremely destructive event, though of a type that has never been seen before.

The galaxy—where the unknown cosmic event occurred—seems fairly faint and unremarkable. However, in 2014, it became 1,000 times brighter over a period of a few hours, after it faded away again. Astronomers have been left baffled.

It took thousands of hours of work by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to determine that the event came from a weak and small galaxy about 10.7 billion light-years from Earth reports Astronomy Magazine.

“Whatever it is, a lot more observations are needed to work out what we’re seeing.”

In fact, this ‘explosion’ was so POWERFUL, that for a couple of minutes the X-ray source produced 1,000 times more energy than all the stars in that galaxy.

So far, experts have never recorded a similar event anywhere in the universe.

“Ever since discovering this source, we’ve been struggling to understand its origin,” said team member Franz Bauer, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

“It’s like we have a jigsaw puzzle but we don’t have all of the pieces.”

So what caused it?

Scientists are not sure but there are few possible explanations that could explain the mystery explosion. Out of the three,  two of them are centered around gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Gama Ray bursts are considered as the brightest electromagnetic events ever in the universe.

Another theory which may explain this strange phenomenon suggests that a black hole shredded a white dwarf star in the distant galaxy.

However, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“None of these ideas fits the data perfectly,” said researcher Ezequiel Treister, also from Chile’s Pontifical Catholic University.

“But then again, we’ve rarely if ever seen any of the proposed possibilities in actual data, so we don’t understand them well at all.”

As reported by Science Alert, the strange X-ray blast was picked up by NASA’s space-faring Chandra X-ray Observatory, which monitored the distant galaxy for a total of 2.5 months over the past 17 years, and detected no evidence of a similar event before or since.

While it’s tempting to write these kinds of events off asaliens, the reality is that there’s a whole lot going on in our Universe that we don’t yet understand or know about.

A paper on the explosion has been accepted in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. A pre-print is available here.

Source: Chandra

Featured image credit: (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

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