Scientists discover the brightest star explosion ever This image provided by The Kavli Foundation on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 shows an artist’s impression of the superluminous supernova ASASSN-15lh as it would appear from an exoplanet located about 10,000 light-years away in the host galaxy of the supernova. (Jin Ma/Beijing Planetarium/The Kavli Foundation via AP/Thinkstock)
Scientists discover the brightest star explosion ever
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Astronomers have discovered the brightest star explosion ever, a super supernova that easily outshines our entire Milky Way.
 
An international team revealed, "the most powerful supernova observed in human history" in the latest Science journal. The astronomers used a network of telescopes around the world to spot the record-breaking supernova last year.
 
Super luminous supernovas -- extra bright stellar explosions -- are believed to be rare. The newly discovered supernova is especially rare: It is more than twice as luminous as any supernova ever observed.
 
At its peak intensity, it is believed to be 20 times more luminous than the entire Milky Way. Some estimates put it at 50 times brighter.
 
And try this statistic on for size: It is 570 billion times brighter at its peak than our sun.
 
Lead author Subo Dong of China's Peking University said that when he learned the magnitude of the discovery last summer, he was "too excited to sleep the rest of the night." Fellow researcher Benjamin Shappee of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, California, didn't believe the results at first, which seemed "surreal."
 
"Discoveries like this are the reason I am an astronomer," Shappee said in an email. "Nature is extremely clever and it is often more imaginative than we can be."
 
Labeled ASASSN-15lh for the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae and pronounced "assassin," the mega blast is located in a galaxy perhaps 3.8 billion light-years away. The precise galaxy is unknown. There are other puzzles as well.
 
"The explosion's mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated," Dong said in a statement.
 
The next step for scientists is to figure out its incredible power source. Other super supernovas, like this one, could be out there. More observatories are on the case, including some NASA spacecraft. The Hubble Space Telescope will be pressed into service this year as well.
 
Dong said ASASSN-15lh "may lead to new thinking and new observations of the whole class of super luminous supernova."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the source of the explosion a mystery?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (26)
  • collinf-2-bar
    1/20/2016 - 05:45 p.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery because "all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated. This means that since there has never been an explosion like this one, it is hard to know what caused it.

    I found this article interesting because I like space and want to learn more about it.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    1/20/2016 - 09:44 p.m.

    I think that it is pretty nice for the people looking in the star to figure out something that is amazing. I hope that the star explosion doesn't affect our planet because the if it affects us, then we will have something wrong. I think that having the people look at the stars and find that this star that has just exploded is the brightest. Looking at the images, the star looks pretty and new life forms will star to form. If a star explodes, then everything gets wiped out and then new life begins. I hope that this new life doesn't attack us when billions of years pass.

  • karliw-1-bar
    1/20/2016 - 10:00 p.m.

    ASASSN-15lh, the newly found and most powerful supernova in human history is anything but explainable. It is believed to be 20-50 times more luminous than the whole entire Milky Way, and 570 billion times brighter than our Sun at it's peak. No astronomer can quite put a finger on what it's power source is, though. But, because the super supernova is some 3.8 billion light-years away in an unknown galaxy, it's going to be a challenge to pin-point the mega blast's location.
    And, according to lead author Subo Dong of China's Peking University,"The explosion's mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated," Dong said in a statement. But, Dong does know this: ASASSAN-15lh is going to "lead to new thinking and new observations of the whole class of super luminous supernova."

  • audreyv-4-bar
    1/21/2016 - 07:51 p.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery, because no one is aware of how such a large amount of energy is produced. "The explosion's mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated," Dong said in a statement."

    I found this article interesting, because it shows how much of the universe is yet to be discovered.

  • billiem-1-bar
    1/21/2016 - 08:56 p.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery because the specific galaxy it came from is unknown. There are also mysteries in the theory of how much energy was released from the explosion. This article was interesting because I am very interested in astronomy. It was also crazy how this explosion was 570 billion times brighter than the sun. How do scientists even measure this?

  • michaely-6-bar
    1/22/2016 - 12:19 a.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery because "the explosion's mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated," Dong said in a statement (paragraph 9). I think even if the explosion is a mystery it is still cool to think how did it get there or what caused that, and even guessing what it could be. But what ever it Is its beautiful. I wonder if its a red or blue gas giant(those are stars larger then the sun but some smaller then the sun).

  • aidanp-1-bar
    1/22/2016 - 12:22 a.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery because the object is too far away to see. If the object was closer or our telescope were stronger we would have seen the object, see the explosion and wonder were it went.

  • matthewp-6-bar
    1/22/2016 - 12:39 a.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery because it is very far away and our telescopes can't get the best image of it. Also no one knows of a source that could cause the massive amount of energy the explosion released. This is shown by,"The explosion's mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated." Another reason could be that scientist cannot see what was there before the explosion. My opinion abut this article is I think it is amazing that something can be that bright.

  • caitlynk-2-bar
    1/22/2016 - 12:46 a.m.

    The source of the explosion is a mystery because, as quote in the text,"the mega blast is located in a galaxy perhaps 3.8 billion light-years away." To find the source of the blast, scientists would need to do an incredible amount of research, which requires a lot of time and money. Also, it would require NASA, or another space organization, to travel 3.8 billion light years away. This article was interesting because the mega blast was 570 billion times brighter then our sun. This article surprised me because they found out about the mega blast a year ago, but they are just explaining what happened now.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    1/22/2016 - 03:00 p.m.

    The source remains a mystery because they don't have record of anything that has enough energy to make it so big and luminous.

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