In space, an abnormally powerful “space cow” exploded

Something exploded in space and astronomers are trying to understand what it is. On June 17, ATLAS double telescopes in Hawaii noticed a bright flash in space that was not there when they were checking data from telescopes about two days ago.

This unusual cosmic event, known as the “Cow”, according to the first interpretations, represents an explosion of high-energy particles approaching the speed of light. Its surface temperature is over 8900 ° C, and it expands outward at a speed of 20,000 kilometers per second.

Most supernova explosions take several weeks or even longer to reach full brightness, but this explosion lasted only a few days. “It really just came out of nowhere,” says Keith Maguire from Queen’s University in Belfast, which is part of the ATLAS team. Its peak brightness was incredibly high, 10-100 times brighter than most conventional supernovae.

The strange phenomenon was assigned the number AT2018cow, gave the name “Cow” for brevity. The name was just a lucky coincidence – events in the astronomical archive are given by three-letter labels in alphabetical order based on when they were added.

Originally, it seemed that the explosion should be in our own galaxy to be so bright. But shortly after the initial observations, a group of Chinese astronomers discovered details that indicated that this event most likely occurred in another galaxy, almost 200 million light-years away.

Over the next few days, various groups of astronomers used at least 18 more telescopes to look at the “Cow”, taking more detailed observations in a variety of wavelengths of light.

These observations led to the interpretation that the “cow” is a kind of explosion of high-energy particles.