New Ultra-Bright Supernova
Ohio State University’s awesomely acronymed observatory, the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN), recently spotted the most stupidly bright star death ever observed.
In 2015, its twin telescopic arrays Brutus and Cassius logged an unremarkable blotch of light. Later observations revealed an odd light spectrum emanating from said blotch, and eventually, the Southern African Large Telescope confirmed an ultra-bright gas cloud with an unidentified 15-kilometer (10 mi) object at its center. Researchers blame a past supernova, several times stronger than the previous record holder—so violent that it unleashed almost 600 billion Suns’ worth of fury against the universe; an output that would take our lowly star 10 billion years to match.
ASASSN-15lh, as it’s known, is so magnificent that it straddles the limit of our scientific understanding. Astronomers can’t comfortably explain the supernova’s strength but have several ideas. Maybe it’s the wild death throes of one of the universe’s most massive of stars. So few of these elites exist that it’s quite possible we simply haven’t seen one blow up before.
Alternatively, a millisecond magnetar could be to blame. Such objects spin at the astonishing rate of once per millisecond. If able to convert this immense rotational energy almost entirely to light, they could produce such catastrophic outbursts as observed by astronomers.