NASA Scientists Detect Huge Thermonuclear Blast Deep in Space

 The culprit seems to be a faraway pulsar, which is what’s left of a star after it exploded in a supernova but wasn’t big enough to make a black hole. NASA found the burst because it sent out a strong beam of x-rays that the agency’s orbiting observatory NICER picked up.

All in all, it’s a strong reminder that space is a very dangerous, very dangerous place.

According to research that came out last month in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the explosion in August released the same amount of energy that our Sun would release in 10 days. This happened in just 20 seconds.

In a statement from NASA, the study’s leader, astrophysicist Peter Bult, said, “This burst was great.”

“We see a two-step change in brightness, which we think is caused by the ejection of separate layers from the pulsar’s surface, and other features that will help us figure out how these powerful events work.”

Astronomers think that the thermonuclear explosion was caused by helium that sank below the surface of the pulsar and fused into a ball of carbon.

“Then the helium explodes, sending a thermonuclear fireball across the whole surface of the pulsar,” Zaven Arzoumanian, the head of NICER, said.

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