Astronomers have discovered the flattest explosion ever seen in space

Astronomers are trying to understand how an explosion in space turned out to be flat like a pancake instead of spherical as usual.

Flat blastThe flat explosion is classified as a fast blue optical transition (FBOT). (Image: Philip Drury, University of Sheffield)

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An explosion that occurred more than 180 million light years away is puzzling scientists. The reason? It appears to be flat as a pancake.

Stars are spherical in shape. And when stars explode in the universe, the explosions themselves are usually spherical. But according to the University of Sheffield, this particular explosion is the most aspherical ever seen in space. It is shaped almost like a disc.

The explosion is classified as a Fast Blue Optical Transient (FBOT), which is an extremely rare class of explosion that is much less common than other types. The first bright FBOT was opened in 2018 and was called the cow. Including the explosion discovered in 2018 and the latest one, only five FBOTs have been discovered in total.

Scientists still aren’t sure how bright FBOT explosions are, but this new observation, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Societycan help them better understand rare phenomena.

“Very little is known about FBOT explosions – they just don’t behave like exploding stars should, they’re too bright and they evolve too fast. Simply put, they’re weird, and this new observation makes them even weirder,” said Justin Maund, lead author of the study, in a press statement. Maund works in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sheffield.

According to Maund, there are several plausible explanations for the disc-like explosion. The stars involved in the explosion may have created the disk just before they died, or perhaps they may have been failed supernovae, where the core of the star collapsed into a black hole, swallowing the rest of the star.

According to the University of Sheffield, this discovery was made completely by accident. Scientists spotted a flash of polarized light and were able to measure the polarization of the blast. They used the Liverpool Telescope and the astronomical equivalent of Polaroid glasses to make the observations.

They measure the polarization of the collected data. They reconstructed the 3D shape of the explosion using this data and were able to map the edges of the explosion when they saw how flat it was.

The researchers now plan to conduct more surveys of such celestial anomalies with the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, hoping to find more FBOTs to better understand them.

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