In deepest space lurks a force of almost unimaginable power. Explosions of extraordinary violence, are blasting through the Universe every day. If you hit our solar system that would destroy our Sun and all planets.
For years nobody could figure out what was causing the bang. Now scientists believe they have identified the culprit. It is the most extreme object ever found in the universe, but they have dubbed a “hypernova.”
The Cold War cosmology. The mystery began in 1967. A U.S. military satellite was launched to detect Soviet nuclear tests that the Pentagon secretly believe that taking place on the dark side of the moon. In contrast, the satellite picked up evidence of explosions far bigger than any bomb. Something that emit bursts of gamma rays – the deadliest form of energy known – on a massive scale. What’s worse, these blasts just kept coming.
Breaking the law. For decades scientists were baffled. Especially worrying is the evidence that these bursts could be coming from the farthest reaches of the universe, billions of light years away. If so, then for we see on Earth that had to be on a scale that was beyond our comprehension. According to some, these explosions were so big you could even violate the most sacred law of all science: Einstein’s famous equation on the mass and energy, E = mc ². Unless the law supports our understanding of how our universe nothing works.
Live fast, die young. It was not until 1997, when a satellite pinpointed the exact location of these explosions, that scientists began to solve the puzzle. It appears that these huge explosions are caused by the death throes of stars twenty times the size of our Sun, that burn and explode, creating hypernova. So, what developed was a chain of events that ultimately point to some of the most exotic wonders of the Universe: stellar nurseries (where new stars are born) and black holes.
Observations show that – instead of disappearing as an explosion might be expected to – radiation continues to leave the area of a hypernova. This issue is a constant feature of the process of star birth. Astronomers conclude that the hypernova grows rapidly along with other normal stars in a nursery, but burns when his contemporaries are still in their infancy.
Pointing to the past. Find a hypernova, therefore, also have traced a part of space where stellar synthesis is underway. So some scientists now believe that large hypernova explosions may be the key to open one of the great unsolved mysteries in the universe: how the first stars were made at the dawn of time.