Astronomers spot biggest space explosion since the Big Bang

A supermassive black hole carved a rift 1.5 million light years wide across the stars.


NSFW    WASHINGTON — Astronomers say they caught a glimpse of the biggest explosion in the cosmos ever observed by x-ray and radio telescopes. The huge eruption occurred in the Ophiuchus cluster, a constellation of galaxies 390 light years distant from Earth in the Virgo Cluster.

According to the paper that will be published in The Astrophysics Journal, a supermassive black hole in the core of the cluster's central galaxy had expelled matter and energy so violently that it smashed a vast hole in the surrounding gas.

The black hole created jets that accelerated electrons to nearly the speed of light, which resulted in radio waves that filled the cavity left in the eruption's wake.

BBC reports astronomers first noticed something strange with the cluster's central galaxy when NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory telescope in 2016 saw the unusual curve of its edge.

A second science team later used the data from radio telescopes to confirm that a black hole had blasted the cavity into existence by tracking the radio plasma in the gap.

The study's lead author Simona Giacintucci at the Naval Research Laboratory is cited by MIT Technology Review as saying the cavity is so large that 15 Milky Way galaxies could fit inside its volume in a row.

According to co-author Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt at the Murchison Widefield Array, the gap is so vast that light traveling across its distance from one end will not reach the other for 1.5 million years.
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