Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Largest Supernova Ever? Or Giant Black Hole?


Space is filled with an immense amount of planets and stars that we know of but there is a chance that we are 0.0001% of a larger universe that we have not even discovered yet. We know so little about what is beyond our solar system and astronomers and scientists are constantly finding new discoveries. According to CNN.com the most powerful supernova ever may have been discovered. A team of astronomers from around the globe discovered an explosion in space that was 570 billion times brighter than the sun, and brighter than every star in the Milky Way combined. A supernova is a rare occurrence where most of the material in a star explodes, which results in an incredibly bright light and a huge release of energy. Although this supernova emitted such an immense light, it is still not visible to the naked eye because it is 3.8 billion lightyears from earth. Because it is so far away, astronomers have to use high intensity telescopes to try to look at the 10 mile long object and gas left from the explosion. This object is the only thing that remains after the explosion and it is key to discovering if this truly was the largest supernova ever discovered.

Although Astronomers have gained all of this information about the supposed supernova, they are still reluctant to say that they are positive the 10 mile long object found is in fact caused by a supernova. It may just be a rare star called a millisecond magnetar. This type of star is created by a supernova and is rapidly spinning which creates a strong magnetic field. The problem is that in order for this magnetar star to beat the brightness record it would have to spin 1,000 times a second and be converting all of its rotational energy to light with 100% efficiency. This would be the greatest example of this type of star that scientists and astronomers have ever seen. This hypothesis will not be able to be tested until later this year when astronomers will be able to look at the galaxy surrounding the explosion with the Hubble Space Telescope. This will determine if in fact the floating object is a magnetar or an enormous blackhole.

References:

 Ellis, R. (2016, January 16). Astronauts May Have Found Most Powerful Supernova. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/14/us/possible-powerful-supernova/index.html

Posted by Ashley Geary (1)

5 comments:

  1. Space is always such a cool and vast concept to think about. I wonder how close this potential supernova would have to be to our solar system to affect Earth in any way. Of course if it is too far to see without a specific telescope it must not be a threat, but it would be interesting to think about possible implications that could arise if a supernova or black hole formed close enough to Earth.

    Erina Taradai

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  2. It would be interesting to research further the impacts that either classification would hold on the surrounding area in space. What would be the difference between them determining it was a magnetar or a blackhole?

    Dasha Agoulnik

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  3. Blackholes aren't as scary as they first appear. While they seem like this giant hole in the universe, they are really just a star with gravity strong enough to not even let light escape. Maybe the formation of another would change our galaxy's rotation.

    Chris Richard

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    Replies
    1. I agree that blackholes are a very interesting concept and that there are a lot of misconceptions about them. I am curious what would happen if the earth somehow became caught in the blackholes gravity.

      Ashley Geary

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  4. This is an interesting question, and a hard one to answer. The last time a supernova was close enough to earth to be seen by the human eye was in 1987, so clearly this occurrence is very rare. And when the supernova passed by earth it was at a distance of 168,000 lightyears away. They hypothesize that supernovas actually do have a negative effect on humans due to their high-energy radiation. Scientists are unsure of the long term risks implicated with this radiation.

    Ashley Geary

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