NASA Has No Idea About Cataclysmic Event They Observed

NASA Has No Idea About Cataclysmic Event They Observed

A NASA X-ray recently captured flashes that vanished 24 hours later from a galaxy 10.7 billion light-years away, and while experts believed it was some sort of cataclysmic event, they weren’t exactly sure what it was or what caused it.

“A mysterious flash of X-rays has been discovered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in the deepest X-ray image ever obtained,” NASA said in a statement.

“This source likely comes from some sort of destructive event in space, but may be of a variety that scientists have never seen before,” the statement explained.

Kevin Schawinski, a Swiss astrophysicist who co-authored the report of the event, believed the X-ray flashes could have been a “completely new type of cataclysmic event,” but noted that “a lot more observations are needed to work out what we’re seeing.”

Franz Bauer of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago compared the phenomenon to a jigsaw puzzle, “but we don’t have all of the pieces.”

“Ever since discovering this source, we’ve been struggling to understand its origin,” Bauer said.

The X-ray source, located in a region of the sky known as the Chandra Deep Field-South (CDF-S), produced a thousand times more energy than all the stars in this galaxy for a few minutes before fading away completely below the detection of Chandra after about a day.

Thousands of hours of legacy data from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes helped determine that the event likely came from a faint, small galaxy about 10.7 billion light-years from Earth.

Possible explanations for the strange X-ray flashes included gamma-ray burst events, which are jetted explosions triggered either by the collapse of a massive star or by the merger of a neutron star with another neutron star or a black hole, according to Gadgets 360.

If the jet was pointing toward Earth, the burst of gamma rays could have been detected.

Also being considered as the cause of the flashes was the possibility that a medium-sized black hole swallowed a white dwarf star, but researchers were having a hard time fitting the phenomenon squarely into any one explanation.

Ezequiel Treister, a Pontifical Catholic University professor who co-authored the report, explained that none of the ideas put forth fit the data perfectly.

“But then again, we’ve rarely — if ever — seen any of the proposed possibilities in actual data, so we don’t understand them well at all,” Treister said.

The mysterious X-ray source was not seen at any other time and no similar events have yet to be found in Chandra observations of other parts of the sky.

It’s slightly disturbing that these events are happening without explanation, but it’s comforting to know that the brilliant people at NASA have been investigating. If anyone can figure out what those strange X-ray flashes were, it’s them.

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H/T U.K. Express