ASASSN-15lh: The brightest supernova in history

In June 2015, astronomers detected a new light in the sky that left them completely stunned. It appeared to be a  supernova explosion so exceptionally bright that it was twice the intensity of the then-record high. At its peak, that colossal explosion, which was designated “ASASSN-15lh,” was  20 times brighter than the entire Milky Way.

Artist’s rendition of ASASSN-15lh supernova. The brightest supernova in history. It was actually a cosmic cataclysm, scientists have proposed that this event occurred when a supermassive black hole rotating at enormous speeds and located 4,000 million light years from Earth engulfed a star similar to the Sun, this phenomenon was 570,000 million times brighter than the Sun and twenty times brighter than the entire Milky Way. © Wikimedia Commons CC 00

The astronomers focused the telescopes towards the place of origin of that event. And more than one after its detection, they have published a study in the journal Nature Astronomy in which they have proposed an explanation for that light emission.

Surprisingly, they have ruled out that it was a supernova. His hypothesis is that a supermassive black hole located 3,800 million light years from Earth and rotating at that place at an incredible speed, gobbled a comparable star to the sun. This stellar murder emitted an immense amount of energy into space.

“For ten months we have observed the light source and have concluded that the explanation is not related to an extraordinarily bright supernova,” Giorgos Leloudas, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and director of the research, said in a statement. “Our results suggest that the event was probably created by a supermassive black hole  rotating at high speed when it destroyed a star of medium mass,” he proposed.

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