Of all the aspects we’ve been struggling to unravel about the Universe, there’s at least one thing about it that everybody can agree upon: it’s big. This unfathomable and apparently boundless thing that incorporates everything that we see, hear, feel, and so on is unimaginably big. What’s even more frightening and exciting at the same time is that the Universe can be even a lot bigger (thousands or even millions of times bigger) than what astronomers managed to measure after exploiting data from powerful telescopes.
Since the Universe is so big, we must not be surprised if some cosmic objects are also overwhelming for their sizes. The Sun is about the size of a ping pong ball in our sky, but that’s because it’s located very far away: roughly 150 million kilometers away from Earth. In fact, the Sun is so big that one million planets the size of Earth would fit inside of it. To put it in another way, the Sun accounts for over 98% of all the mass of our Solar System. But there’s at least one cosmic object out there in the Universe that stores the power of a billion Suns.
GRB2001415 – a fantastic flash in the Cosmos
LiveScience.com reveals the study of a magnetar that defied all expectations: in less than a second, the cosmic monster unleashed as much energy as a billion Suns. The monster is located all the way in the Sculptor Galaxy, meaning a spiral galaxy located 13 billion light-years away from Earth. For those unaware, a magnetar is a type of neutron star that possesses an extremely powerful magnetic field.
Alberto J. Castro-Tirado, who is a research professor with the Spanish Research Council’s Institute for Astrophysics of Andalucía, declared as quoted by LiveScience.com:
Even in an inactive state, magnetars can be 100,000 times more luminous than our sun,
But in the case of the flash that we have studied — GRB2001415 — the energy that was released is equivalent to that which our sun radiates in 100,000 years.
Luckily for all of us, even though such discoveries are frightening, they confirm to us how full of surprises the Universe is!