Astronomers have witnessed a series of 72 extremely bright explosions in the sky. The origin of the explosions still remains a big mystery for them. While the mysterious explosions were quite similar in brightness to a supernova, which is the explosion of huge stars at the end of their lives, they did not last for long.
Supernovae can usually be seen lighting up the sky for several months or even more. But, the 72 mysterious explosions were visible for a very brief time frame, visible for only a week to a month.
Miika Pursiainen of the University of Southampton said that the discovery is very significant for them as they have managed to find something that cannot be physically explained at present. He said that he thinks that there are still a lot of things to understand about the universe.
Pursiainen added that they have observed similar events before, but the sample found this time sample is largest to date. This particular transient event took place 4 billion light years away from Earth.
The international team of astronomers discovered the unexpected flashes while analyzing data collected from the Dark Energy Survey Supernova Programme (DES-SN). The DES-SN is an international effort that monitors supernovae to better understand dark energy, one of the components accelerating the universe’s expansion. DES-SN has been searching for supernovas using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Chilean Andes.
According to the data collected, the celestial events are incredibly hot, ranging in temperature from 10,000 to 30,000 degrees Celsius (18,000 to 54,000 Fahrenheit). They vary in size from several times the distance from Earth to the sun, to a 100 times the 150 million km (9 million miles) trip. The phenomena also appeared to expand and cool over time, indicating that they are some kind of explosion.
The research team has proposed a theory that suggests that a star that is nearing the end of its life shed a lot of material before its supernova explosion, and this could result in such bright explosions. The team, however, needs a lot more data to reach a conclusion.
The discovery of the flashes was presented at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science on Tuesday.