On June 16, 2018, in a galaxy nearly 200 million light-years away, a strange sky explosion, nicknamed "The Cow," in which astronomers bamboozled.
Apart from giving journalists ample opportunity to play cattle-based puns The cow is largely a mystery, but two recently-discussed theories may have shaken Sherlock's startling explosion.
Recorded by the ATLAS Telescope of the Asteroid Terrestrial Impact System (ATLAS) in Hawaii, the mysterious event was officially named "AT201
Then, in November 2018, two teams suggested it might be the birth of a neutron star or a black hole A second group pointed out that the event was caused by a huge black hole that wiped out a dying star known as the "white dwarf." On Thursday, astronomers from these teams presented their theories about the origins of the cow in a podium discussion 233. American Astronomical Society.
"We have never seen anything like the cow, which is very exciting nd, "said Amy Lien, a research assistant at the University of Maryland and Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA.
Lien and her team are in the White Dwarf's camp and believe that the flash of light that was discovered in June was traced back to a very dense, earth-sized star torn apart by the gravity of a black hole. As this white dwarf entered the black hole, the tremendous forces ripped it and turned the star into a gas stream.
Analyzing data from the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, a near-Earth orbiting telescope, the team found that this event did not match the typical profile of an exploding star. The observation of the cow's ultraviolet light, radio waves and gamma rays suggests that a black hole up to one million times larger than our sun has torn the white dwarf to pieces. The work of the team is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The following clip shows how her version of events might have evolved.
The other research team, led by Raffaella Margutti of Northwestern University, does not agree with the White Dwarf's theory. They believe the cow was an exploding star – a supernova – that has now led to a never before seen cosmic event.
"Further observations of other wavelengths in the entire spectrum led to our interpretation" The cow "is actually the formation of a black hole or neutron star," said Margutti.
Yes, we may have just played the Sky Watcher to birth a brand new black hole. Congratulations, Universe.
The reason why Margutti and her team believe the explosion was star-shaped is due to the unusual X-ray observations of the saw. Typically, a supernova leads to an opaque debris bubble that prevents astronomers from seeing and examining what's going on inside. But the cow did not produce the same amount of cosmic objects as usual, which means Margutti's team could plunge into the "engine" of the blast and poke around.
As a result, the team was also able to study the cow's profile during the first 100 days, long after the initial light had faded. They discovered that it emitted a series of radiation and that high-energy X-rays, known as hard X-rays, showed that the cow was probably a "compact body" like a black hole or neutron star from a fancy black hole that is incredibly dense and has an extreme gravitational force.
If Margutti's team proves correct, the impact would be enormous, providing a more complete understanding of the birth of compact bodies. If the team continues to follow the cow, it could help us better understand the evolution of these events and their impact on the ground and throughout the universe.
There are currently two theories and no clear answers, but further research will raise more knowledge about the cow and its brilliant, explosive beginnings.
And that is not a bull.
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