There’s no rest for the wicked, as they say, or in this case there’s no rest for astronomers. After last week’s 227th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and after multiple discoveries these past few weeks, astronomers observe record breaking brightest supernova to date stumps scientists.
ASASSN-15lh, as the star was named, is not only the brightest supernova ever recorded, but it overtakes the previous brightest one by almost 100%. That’s right, it’s almost twice as bright as the previous brightest supernova recorded.
The supernova is so bright, actually, that the researchers looking into it are not actually sure what might have caused it, as previous models of what might have happened might actually be completely wrong.
For a better grasping of the incredible power of ASASSN-15lh, it’s not only 200 time brighter than your typical average supernova, but it’s also 20 times brighter than the entire Milky Way, and 570 billion times as bright as our sun.
The thing about the record holder supernova is that it pretty much defies any previous understanding of what might have caused it, or how supernovas happen.
What scientists generally believe to be the cause of most super luminous supernovae are mangnetars, or very bright and rotating neutron stars with very strong magnetic fields, which help the stars shine brighter, especially when exploding.
However, because of the never before seen brightness of ASASSN-15lh, scientists are beginning to doubt that explanation. According to them, for the supernova to be bright it would require a perfect series of fortunate events, among which are an incredibly fast rotation and an immensely powerful magnetic field.
Because of the minimal chances of that actually being the explanation, the researchers say that if that’s indeed the case, ASASSN-15lh will be the brightest supernova ever recorded for quite a while, as the series of events leading up to it would be implausible to happen again too soon.
Even the researchers on the case are excited about the possibility of their magnetar model not being the real answer, and they encourage others to attempt to submit better possible explanations.
If another explanation for the incomprehensibly rare phenomenon is found, it would most likely mean a totally new way of understanding and looking at things in the astronomical field; it would basically be a Rosetta stone for astrophysicists.
Oh, and to further illustrate the true magnitude of the ASASSN-15lh supernova, by using two telescopes, the South African Large Telescope and the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, or the ASAS-SN, the researcher pointed out that the event is taking place 3.8 billion light years away from Earth.
Image source: Pixabay