This is how the largest explosion ever observed to date was detected

Each particle has 6 times more energy than the Hiroshima bomb.

Astronomers at the Gemini South telescope in Chile have detected the aftermath of a gamma-ray burst cataloged as GRB221009A. This event occurred 2.4 billion light-years from Earth and was probably caused by a supernova explosion that gave rise to a black hole. And it would be, to date, the largest explosion ever detected. Nicknamed BOAT (Brightest Of All Time or the brightest of all time) his observation was published by two independent teams from the National Research Laboratory for Optical-Infrared Astronomy using the Gemini South telescope.

“The gamma-ray burst GRB 221009A is the brightest ever recorded and its brightness is breaking all records at all wavelengths – the leader of one of the teams, Brendan O’Connor – explained in a statement. Because this outburst is so bright and so close, we believe this is a once-in-a-century opportunity to address some of the most fundamental questions about these explosions, from the formation of black holes to evaluating models of dark matter.” .

This explosion is believed to have been produced by the collapse of a star many times more massive than our Sun, which in turn launched an extremely powerful supernova, giving rise to a black hole. The telescopes of the Gemini International Observatory are located in Chile and Hawaii and have optical-infrared instruments. To that they add technology capable of detecting a planet that is a million times dimmer than the star it orbits . The use of technologies such as adaptive optics and multi-object spectroscopy allows the universe to be explored in depth and in unprecedented detail.

“In our research group, we have referred to this burst as the brightest of all time, because when you look at the thousands of bursts that gamma-ray telescopes have been detecting since the 1990s, this one stands out,” adds Jillian Rastinejad. , also involved in detection – . Gemini’s sensitivity and instrument diversity will help us continue to observe GRB221009A’s optical counterparts much longer than most ground-based telescopes can. This will help us understand what made this gamma-ray burst so exceptionally bright and energetic .”

When black holes form, they propel powerful jets of particles that accelerate to nearly the speed of light. These jets then pass through what is left of the parent star, emitting X-rays and gamma rays as they stream out into space. If these jets point in the general direction of Earth, they are seen as bright flashes of X-rays and gamma rays. This event, due to its relative proximity to Earth, is also a unique opportunity to better understand the origin of elements heavier than iron and whether they all come solely from neutron star mergers or also from collapsing stars that trigger bursts. of gamma rays.

Another gamma-ray burst this bright may not appear for decades or centuries, and this case is still evolving. The very high energy photons (about 18 TeV) observed in the explosion could defy our standard understanding of physics and survive their 2.4 billion year journey to Earth. By comparison, the most powerful collision at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN so far has had an energy of just 13 TeV. What does this mean? Basically, if we take into account that the Hiroshima bomb released about 60 TJ (terajoules) of energy, this is barely a quarter of the energy carried by the colliding particles at CERN. Instead, the photons (the carrier particles of all forms of electromagnetic radiation, including gamma rays), detected with Gemini, each of them,it had 6 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb . All this in one particle.

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