Astronomers have discovered the explosion of the brightest star ever observed, a supernova that easily outweighs our entire galaxy.
It was the most powerful supernova explosion ever observed in astronomical history. Astronomers used a network of giant telescopes located around the world to discover this supernova explosion.
Super luminous supernovae – extra-bright stellar explosions – are thought to be rare. This supernova is particularly rare: it is more than twice as luminous as any supernova observed to date, including the previous record-holders.
At its peak intensity, it is thought to be 20 times brighter than our entire Milky Way galaxy but some astronomical estimates place it as 50 times brighter.
It is 570 billion times brighter than our Sun at its peak.
“I didn’t believe these results at first, but they were actually real,” says fellow researcher Benjamin Shappey of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, California.
“I am an astronomer because of discoveries like these,” Shappi said in an email. “Nature is very clever and it is often much more imaginative than we are.”
Labeled ASASSN-15lh for the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae and dubbed the “killer” the mega blast is probably located in a galaxy approximately 3.8 billion light-years away but this galaxy is still unknown.
“The mechanism and power source of the explosion are shrouded in mystery because all known theories pose serious challenges in interpreting ASASSN-15lh’s immense amounts of energy” said author Dong, a researcher at Peking University in China, in a statement.
The next step for scientists is to trace its incredible power source. Other supernovae, like this one, may be out there.