On October 9, 2022, one of the most powerful and unprecedented energy bursts swiped over our planet. It was the most luminous event ever recorded. It traveled 1.9 billion years to get here. Now, scientists have answers.
On October 9, 2022, one of the most powerful energy bursts of a gamma ray swiped over the planet. It was one of the brightest events astronomers had ever observed, many calling it a once-in-a-lifetime event. This event was huge, and it was massive. It was unique. Since the event took place, astronomers have been trying to figure out what the event was and what caused it. Now, astronomers believe they have an answer. They believe that the rare gamma-ray burst of October 9 may have been the birth cry of a Black Hole, one that formed at the very heart of a massive star that ended up collapsing under its own gravity. Under such events, an emerging Black hole expels extremely powerful jets of particles that travel across interstellar space at nearly the speed of light. These jets emit x- and gamma-rays as they make their way into outer space.
Training our Telescopes for energy bursts
This Black Hole and the extraordinary signal it had emitted originated from the Sagitta constellation. What is interesting is that this light, this super-bright event, had traveled approximately 1.9 billion light-years until the energy burst eventually swiped over the planet. The event, this once-in-a-lifetime event, was picked up by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, but also by NASA’s Swift Observatory. The powerful emission, one of the most luminous known, was called GRB 221009a. Not the most creative name for such an amazing event, but that is how it usually is in astronomy. The event of October 9 was ten times more luminous than the previous record holder, GRB130427A.
A powerful event with powerful clues
Since this was such an extraordinary event, scientists worldwide wanted to get as much information as possible from the event. So they trained their telescopes to observe the aftermath of the event. This is especially important since light from such ancient explosions can provide details on how stars collapse and how black holes are born. It also provides many clues on the behavior and interaction of matter traveling nearly at the speed of light. And it also tells us a lot about the galaxy where the event took place. Scientists say that such a luminous event is unlikely to take place in decades, so we were very, very lucky actually to pick up and study this one.