A Luminous Mystery

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Scientists discovered what they believe to be the brightest supernova ever seen, even though it faded away very quickly, New Scientist reported.

Astronomers spotted the celestial object called AT2022aedm – nicknamed Adam – lying near the edge of another galaxy known for housing relatively old stars.

In their study, the team observed that Adam became hundreds of billions of times brighter than the Sun. But within a month, this record-breaking luminosity just disappeared.

They described Adam as a completely new type of cosmic object known as “luminous fast coolers” (LFCs).

The new finding has raised a lot of questions about what could cause such a massive and bright supernova.

Adam is located far from its galaxy’s center, which therefore discards the theory that the supernova was caused by a process that has to do with the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.

The researchers suggested that the explosion was created by a rare intermediate-mass black hole consuming a star, which explains its brightness and quick-dimming nature. Intermediate-mass black holes are believed to be fast eaters.

However, the latter process would have resulted in the creation of X-rays. Adam created only a few X-rays, causing lead author Matt Nicholl and his team to scratch their heads.

“It’s a combination of properties that don’t match any known kind of object we’ve seen before,” said Nicholl. “We’ve seen really bright supernovae before and we’ve seen supernovae that fade really quickly, and we’ve seen supernovae in old galaxies, but never all three at the same time.”

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