A team of NASA researchers has managed to observe, in the depth of space, a “massive thermonuclear explosion.” A violent and unexpected phenomenon that dwarfs any explosion generated by man.
The “culprit” of the intense flare could be, according to the space agency, a distant pulsar, the remains of a star that exploded as a supernova and was too small to form a black hole. The outbreak could be detected because it emitted an intense beam of X-rays, which was collected by the instruments of the NICER orbital observatory.
The announcement and analysis of the titanic explosion, which in just 20 seconds emitted the same amount of energy as the Sun in ten days, appears this month in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“This explosion was outstanding,” says NASA astrophysicist Peter Bult, who has led the investigation.
“We saw a two-phase change in brightness, which we believe was caused by the expulsion of several layers of the pulsar’s surface, and we also saw other characteristics that will help us understand the physics that underlie these powerful events.”
Although they are not entirely sure, astronomers think that the thermonuclear explosion was caused by helium that sank beneath the surface of the pulsar and then merged into a carbon ball.
In the words of the head of the NICER observatory, “afterwards, helium enters a kind of explosive eruption and unleashes a ball of thermonuclear fire on the entire surface of the pulsar.”
The phenomenon serves as a reminder of the enormous violence and danger that can be unleashed in space at any time.
See the video down below: