By George Day • 28 February 2020 • 16:25
The biggest cosmic explosion on record has been detected.
The event was so powerful that it has made a dent the size of 15 Milky Way galaxies in the surrounding space.
The eruption is thought to have originated at a supermassive black hole in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster – which is roughly 390 million light years from Earth.
Simona Giacintucci, of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, the lead author of the study, described the blast as an astronomical version of the eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980, which ripped off the top of the volcano.
“A key difference is that you could fit 15 Milky Way galaxies in a row into the crater this eruption punched into the cluster’s hot gas,” she said.
Galaxy clusters are among the largest structures in the universe, containing thousands of individual galaxies, dark matter and hot gas. At the heart of the Ophiuchus cluster there is a large galaxy that contains a supermassive black hole with a mass equivalent to 10 million suns.
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