Saturday, April 1, 2023

Researchers Witness Most Leveled Outburst in the Cosmos

2:47 PM | , ,

Scientists are left perplexed by an explosion of a magnitude similar to that of our solar system, as its form--which is similar to a very thin disk--confounds all the knowledge we have about blasts in the cosmos.

In 2018, a very rare type of bright explosion, a Fast Blue Optical Transient, was first observed and was given the nickname "the cow." It is much less frequent than other explosions, for example supernovas.

The stars in the universe typically burst in a spherical form, due to their own spherical shape. Nevertheless, a recent explosion that happened 180 million light years away is the most aspherical ever seen in the cosmos, creating a disk-like figure a few days after its discovery. It is believed that this section of the explosion might have come from matter lost by the star before it blew up.

The Royal Astronomical Society's Monthly Notices recently published observations that could bring us closer to comprehending the phenomenon of bright FBOT explosions, though their exact cause remains unknown.

According to Dr. Justyn Maund from the University of Sheffield's Department of Physics and Astronomy, who was the Lead Author of the study, very little is known about FBOT explosions; they are completely unusual, being too bright and developing too rapidly. He further commented that this new observation makes them even more peculiar.

It is our hope that this discovery will shed more illumination on the process--we were not expecting explosions to be so non-spherical. There are some likely explanations for this phenomenon: the stars involved might have formed a disk close to the end of their lives or it is possible these were failed supernovas, where the core of the star implodes to form a blackhole or neutron star, thus consuming the remainder of the star.

It is now certain that the degree of asymmetry in measurements is integral in comprehending these enigmatic detonations, and it defies our expectations of how stars detonate in the cosmos.

By sheer luck, scientists stumbled upon a burst of polarized light. Utilizing the astronomical equivalent of polaroid sunglasses, they were able to ascertain the polarization of the explosion with the Liverpool Telescope owned by Liverpool John Moores University and located in La Palma.

The researchers were able to gauge the size of the explosion in a distant galaxy, which was equivalent to that of our solar system, by measuring the polarization. With this data, they were able to assemble a 3D model of the blast and map its boundaries, demonstrating how extensive the flatness of the explosion was.

At only 2.0m in diameter, the Liverpool Telescope's mirror size is quite small; nevertheless, by examining the polarization, the scientists managed to recreate the form of the eruption as if the telescope had a diameter of approximately 750km.

A fresh survey conducted by the international Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile is anticipated to help uncover more FBOTs and further comprehend them.

Justyn R Maund et al, A flash of polarized optical light points to an aspherical 'cow', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2023). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stad539

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