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Source of the Brightest Known Light Burst has Been Found by Researchers

However, in the process, scientists have encountered two more significant mysteries, one of which raises questions about the origins of our heavy elements, such as gold.

It is now known that the 2022 light burst had an exploding star at its center, according to researchers.

However, that explosion wouldn’t have been enough to make it shine so brightly on its own.

Furthermore, according to our current understanding, supernovas—exploding stars—are the source of all the heavy elements in the cosmos, including platinum and gold.

However, the researchers was unable to find any of these components, which begs more questions regarding the manufacturing process for precious metals.

Results such as these, according to independent of the study team Prof. Catherine Heymans of Edinburgh University and Scotland’s Astronomer Royal, contribute to the advancement of science.

“The Universe is an amazing, wonderful and surprising place, and I love the way that it throws these conundrums at us!”

“The fact that it is not giving us the answers we want is great, because we can go back to the drawing board and think again and come up with better theories,” she stated.

October 2022 saw the explosion discovered by telescopes. It originated from a far-off galaxy that was 2.4 billion light-years away and was spewing light in every frequency. However, it was particularly strong in terms of gamma rays, which are X-rays with greater penetration.

The gamma ray burst was so strong that it overwhelmed the detectors that detected it and lasted for seven minutes. Astronomers dubbed the burst the Brightest Of All Time, or B.O.A.T., after further measurements revealed that it was 100 times brighter than anything that had ever been observed before.

Although exploding supernovas are known to cause gamma ray bursts, this one was so brilliant that an easy explanation was not possible. The current theory states that it would have needed to be incredibly massive if it was a supernova.

At first, the burst’s brightness confused the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) detectors. These kind of massive explosions are estimated to happen once every 10,000 years, thus the telescope’s recent operation was a tremendous boon for astronomers hoping to investigate the event.

One of JWST’s instruments was able to confirm that a supernova explosion had occurred when the light faded. However, it had not been quite as potent as they had anticipated. Why, therefore, had the gamma-ray burst been so extreme?

The co-leader of the research team, Dr. Peter Blanchard, is unsure. However, he’s curious to know. In order to study more supernova remains, he intends to reserve more time on JWST.

“It could be that these gamma ray bursts and supernova explosions are not necessarily directly linked to each other and they could be separate processes going on,” he stated to BBC News.

The University of Utah’s Dr. Tanmoy Laskar, a co-leader of the study, suggested that the B.O.A.T.’s power could be attributed to the way material jets were being spewed out, as is typical of supernovas. However, narrower jets result in a more concentrated and brighter light beam.

“It’s like focusing a flashlight’s beam into a narrow column, as opposed to a broad beam that washes across a whole wall,” he explained. “In fact, this was one of the narrowest jets seen for a gamma ray burst so far, which gives us a hint as to why the afterglow appeared as bright as it did” .

Rethinking the Theory

All university astronomers are currently taught that one of the processes by which heavy metals, like gold, platinum, lead, and uranium, are formed is in the intense environments created by supernovas. The hypothesis states that these are dispersed throughout the galaxy and have a role in planet formation, which is how Earth’s metals came to be.

However, the area surrounding the burst star showed no signs of heavy element activity. So, is the idea incorrect and there is another way to manufacture heavy metals, or are supernovas the only place where they may be formed under specific circumstances?

“Theorists need to go back and look at why an event like the B.O.A.T is not producing heavy elements when theories and simulations predict that they should,” adds Blanchard.

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