Astronomers say that the "birth" of a black hole likely resulted in the brightest cosmic explosion we have ever witnessed.
Black holes, known for their engulfing nature, might also contribute energy to the universe. Now, it seems that the birth of a black hole was the brightest cosmic explosion ever witnessed by humankind.
In a groundbreaking cosmic event recorded on October 22 last year, a colossal star collapsed and birthed a black hole. This occurrence was marked by an exceptional flash of gamma rays and a lingering light afterglow, earning it the name “Brightest of All Time” (BOAT).
The “birth” of a Black Hole
Astrophysicists globally have been tirelessly exploring the unusually bright gamma-ray burst and its slow-diminishing afterglow since their telescopes captured the BOAT signal.
A collaborative team, including Dr. Hendrik Van Eerten from the University of Bath’s Physics Department, proposed that the BOAT, or GRB 221009A, pointed directly at Earth and carried an extraordinary volume of stellar material. Their research is now featured in the esteemed Science Advances journal.
Brightest cosmic explosion ever witnessed
The study’s co-lead, Dr. Van Eerten, explained that the afterglow’s slow fade and the inability to view the jet’s edges suggested a unique structure to the GRB. Their mathematical models confirmed this hypothesis.
The researchers propose that this unusual event’s width is due to the mix of stellar material and the jet as it traversed the collapsing star. This mix caused the appearance of shock-heated gas in our line of sight, thus masking the jet signature.
The future of GRB study
According to Dr. Van Eerten, their model provides insights into the BOAT and other confusingly bright cosmic events. He theorizes an existence of an extreme class of events that mask their gas flow’s direction. Future research into their magnetic fields and massive stars is required to understand their rarity.
Dr. Brendan O’Connor, the study’s lead author, stated that the exceptionally long and bright GRB 221009A and its record-smashing afterglow present a rare opportunity to address fundamental questions regarding black holes, dark matter models, and cosmic explosions.