I think it’s fair to say most of us are pretty wrapped up in our own lives, which means when something big happens, we undoubtedly think it’s the biggest thing in the universe at that given moment.
But, what if scientists have discovered the actual biggest explosion in the universe’s history? That’d really put it all into perspective, wouldn’t it?
The huge fall out – which, trust me, was a little bit bigger than your last row with your ex – was unleashed by a supermassive (that’s really big) black hole in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster, located some 400 million light years from Earth, according to a report published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Co-author of the study, Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, an astrophysicist at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, said in the report:
We’ve seen outbursts in the centres of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive. And we don’t know why it’s so big.
The Ophiuchus explosion was five times bigger than the previous record holder of the universe’s biggest outburst in a cluster known as MS 0735+74 . It quite literally doesn’t get any more dramatic than that.
But, unlike the Big Bang which created the very universe we’re sitting in, the Ophiuchus cluster explosion was a slow burn that grew for millions of years.
The huge fall out was caused by an active galactic nucleus (AGN), which is the term for the central region of a galaxy during energetic phases that are known for their powerful flares and intense emissions of radiation.
For example, the supermassive black hole located in the middle of the Milky Way is dormant at this moment in time, however it has been AGN in the past.
The outburst even created a huge hole in the plasma surrounding the black hole, creating a ‘giant radio fossil’ in the cluster.
In the report, Johnston-Hollit noted:
People were skeptical because of the size of outburst. But it really is that. The universe is a weird place.
Her team confirmed that the cavity is in fact ‘a very aged fossil of the most powerful AGN outburst seen in any galaxy cluster’.
They made their discoveries from two space telescopes, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, as well as two ground radio observatories, the Murchison Widefield Array in Australia and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India.
That really puts your own dramas into perspective, doesn’t it?
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The Astrophysical Journal