Mystery Space Object 50 Times Brighter than Milky Way, NASA Has No Idea What It Is

If NASA did know, it isn’t like they would tell us…

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Via Daily Galaxy:

Astronomers are not entirely sure what it is. If, as they suspect, the gas ball is the result of a supernova, then it’s the most powerful supernova ever seen. In June of 2015, astronomers viewed a ball of hot gas billions of light years away that is radiating the energy of hundreds of billions of suns. Even in a discipline that regularly uses gigantic numbers to express size or distance, the case of this small but powerful mystery object in the center of the gas ball is extreme. At its heart is an object a little larger than 10 miles across. ASAS-SN-15lh, as the object is known, was twice as luminous as any previously seen, far brighter than any normal supernova, and outshone our entire Milky Way galaxy by 50 times.

The artist’s impression below shows what it would look like from an exoplanet 10,000 light-years away in its home galaxy. The team reported that the object at the center could be a very rare type of star called a magnetar–but one so powerful that it pushes the energy limits allowed by physics. An international team of professional and amateur astronomers spotted the possible supernova, now called ASASSN-15lh, when it first flared to life in June 2015.

The gas ball surrounding the 10 mile wide object can’t be seen with the naked eye because its 3.8 billion light years from Earth. Though ASAS-SN has discovered some 250 supernovae since the collaboration began in 2014, the explosion that powered ASASSN-15lh stands out for its sheer magnitude. It is 200 times more powerful than the average supernova, 570 billion times brighter than our sun, and 20 times brighter than all the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy combined. “We have to ask, how is that even possible?” said Krzysztof Stanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State. “It takes a lot of energy to shine that bright, and that energy has to come from somewhere.”

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