Top 10 Recently Discovered Cosmic Phenomena

A Silent Supernova

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It doesn’t require a space-ripping supernova or a collision between two incredibly dense objects like neutron stars to create a black hole because, apparently, stars can collapse into black holes with a relative whimper.

Researchers thought it could happen, made it happen on computers, and now think they’ve finally seen it happen in the wild. The Large Binocular Telescope survey picked out thousands of potential “failed supernovae.” Out of all these, one appears to be the real deal.

Star N6946-BH1 had just the right amount of mass for this to occur, about 25 times more than the Sun. The images show it doing exactly what researchers thought it would do—get a bit brighter (compared to other supernovae) and then vanish into darkness.

The Universe’s Largest Magnetic Fields

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Lots of celestial bodies produce magnetic fields, but the largest ever discovered belong to gravitationally connected clusters of galaxies.

A typical cluster spans about 10 million light-years, compared to the Milky Way’s relatively slim 100,000-light-year waistline.[5] And these gravitational behemoths produce the magnetic fields to match their sheer immenseness.

The clusters are a bumper car pit of charged particles, gas clouds, stars, and dark matter, and their chaotic interactions create an electromagnetic witch’s brew. When the galaxies themselves float too close and bump together, it compresses the roiling gases, shooting arc-like “relics” that extend up to six million light-years, potentially larger than the cluster that births it

Galaxies On Fast-Forward

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The early universe is full of mysteries, including a bunch of mysteriously chubby galaxies that shouldn’t have existed long enough to get to their observed level of fatness.

These galaxies had hundreds of billions of stars (a decent number by current standards) when the universe was only 1.5 billion years old or so.Looking back even further in space-time, astronomers have found a new type of hyperactive galaxy that preempted and fed the early behemoths.

When the universe wasn’t yet a billion years old, these precursor galaxies were already pumping out an insane number of stars at a rate 100 times faster than the Milky Way. And even in the sparsely populated infant universe, researchers found evidence that the galaxies were merging to form the earliest, beefiest specimens.

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