Astronomers have recently witnessed a mysterious explosion in a distant galaxy that is 200 million light years away from Earth, and with this blast appearing even brighter than a supernova, scientists have been left baffled as to what could be causing it.
The area where this blast occurred has been referred to as “the cow” and the flash that was spotted is reported to register at 16,000 degrees Fahrenheit (9,000 degrees Celsius), according to the Daily Mail.
While scientists do know that this explosion is carrying high-energy particles as they whiz through space at an astonishing 12,000 miles per second, they don’t know why the blast occurred in the first place. As one scientist explained, “There hasn’t really been another object like this.”
The strange blast in space was first spotted by ATLAS telescopes that have been set up to observe and track asteroids. The explosion caught the attention of astronomers immediately because it was profoundly luminous, yet as incredible as its brightness was, it was the speed at which it was traveling that really made scientists sit up and take notice.
When it comes to celestial explosions out in space, these normally take many weeks before they achieve a certain level of brightness. This new blast known as “the cow,” however, has grown markedly over just the past couple of days.
Spotted in space: An explosion far brighter than the entire Milky Way pic.twitter.com/wvJJIVhD2F— Reddit SpacePictures (@space_reddit) June 22, 2018
Dr. Kate Maguire, an astronomer from Queens University Belfast, noted that the explosion just appeared out of the blue.
“It really just appeared out of nowhere. There are other objects that have been discovered that are as fast, but the fastness and the brightness, that’s quite unusual.”
Immediately after detecting the explosion in space, it was given the name of “the cow” as “AT2018cow ” came up in the database after it was categorized. Scientists have pointed 18 telescopes toward the blast in an effort to find out what might be causing it.
Because it was so bright, it was first thought to emanate from the Milky Way. However, a group of scientists from China were able to determine that it was actually 200 million light years away from us, something that stunned astronomers everywhere given its immense brightness.
According to Dr. Maguire, the explosion is unlikely to have come from a supernova as it is both too bright and too fast.
“We’re not sure yet what it is, but the normal powering mechanism for a supernova is radioactive decay of nickel, and this event is too bright and too fast for that.”
As scientists continue to track the intense explosion in space, it is being reported that within the next couple of days they should have a better idea of what could be causing it after further observation.