Here's some eye-opening news from the all-consuming cosmos as an international collective of scientists has discovered a massive supernova remnant that registers 50 times brighter than our Milky Way galaxy. Officially cataloged as ASASSN-151h and first observed on June 14, 2015, the brilliant supernova is located roughly 3.8 billion light-years away in a galaxy three times the size of our own.
The remarkable findings were published in a report in this week's issue of the journal Science.
"It didn't look like any of the other 200 or so supernovae we had discovered at that point," astronomer Subo Dong, with the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in China.
This retina-searing supernova was discovered by the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (called ASAS-SN or "assassin"), a linked network of six deep-sky telescopes around the world. Dong and his astronomical colleagues are divided as to exactly what originally triggered the incredible blast, more than twice as bright as any previously discovered supernova, but theories have focused on the idea that the catalyst was either a supermassive black hole or a magnetar, a rapidly rotating neutron star carrying a powerful magnetic field.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope will be aimed at the location later this year to peer into the heavens for more clues inside the superluminous supernova's host galaxy.
"Like many mysteries in astronomy, it may take years, if not decades, of observational and theoretical efforts to unravel it," Dong said.