Some mysterious flashes of light have a team of astronomers working to find an explanation of their origin. It’s about 72 “bright and fast explosions”, captured during a recent astronomical mapping, said Miika Pursiainen, a researcher at the University of Southampton, in the UK, on Tuesday, during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science held in Liverpool.
The flashes were captured from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile by the Supernova Mapping for Dark Energy Program (DES-SN), an international project created in 2013.
The observatory’s objective is to register the position of galaxies and supernovas (explosions of massive stars) in order to better understand the dark matter that accelerates the expansion of the universe.
It was precisely that search that revealed “more unexplainable transient events”, such as these explosions of light, added the astronomer.
The events uncovered by the Pursiainen team are “very peculiar”, even for transitory phenomena, informed the researchers.
Are these mysterious flashes of light from supernovas? Nothing is yet known for sure
According to the published information, the 72 recorded events are very hot, with temperatures ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 degrees Celsius. In addition, they are large, even measuring several hundred times the distance from Earth to the Sun, which is a total of 150 million kilometers.
Despite their peculiarities, they present several similarities with supernovas.
For example, the maximum brightness achieved by these mysterious flashes is similar to that of some types of supernovas. However, while these mysterious lashes can be observed for periods of between one week and one month, the supernovas are visible for at least several months.
On the other hand, “they seem to expand and cool as they evolve over time, as would be expected from an explosive event such as a supernova,” said the scientists.
A theory about the origin of these mysterious flashes of light, known as transient phenomena, is that it is a cloud of matter that is surrounding (and hiding) a supernova explosion. In any case, as Pursiainen himself said, the study “confirms that astrophysics and cosmology are still sciences with many unanswered questions.”