back to article Remember that brightest supernova ever seen? It wasn't one

Last year, astronomers spotted what looked like a massive supernova, 200 times brighter than any seen before. Use of the Hubble and Swift orbital telescopes as well as observatories here on Earth to make a close analysis of the event, dubbed ASASSN-15lh, indicates that the flash in the sky might not have been a supernova at …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stellar death

    I now have a new hangover euphemism, thanks.

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Instead it could be the last burst of light from a star being ripped apart by gravity

    Rubbish. Everyone knows the universe is really electric.

    Nah, just kidding!

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Science was never this cool at school

    But, back then Pluto was still a planet.

    1. Esme

      Re: Science was never this cool at school

      @Winkypop

      -back when I were at school, many astronomy books still said that what we now know are other galaxies were 'starry nebulae' which were thought to reside within our own galaxy! (This despite the grand efforts of Henretta Leavitt and Edwin Hubble a few decades previously). And some regarded Pluto as a 'new' planet, usurping Neptune as the furthermost planet in the solar system. How times change, eh?

      1. mics39
        Thumb Up

        Re: Science was never this cool at school

        I'm always awed when checking astronomy section at the local library that books published as recently as the 1990s require great deal of rewriting. Keep them coming, boffins!

  4. TRT Silver badge

    Where's Max Quordlepleen when you need him?

    And as the photon storms gather in the swirling clouds around us, preparing to tear apart the last of the red hot, hot suns, I hope you’ll all settle back and enjoy with me what I am sure we will all find an immensely exciting and terminal experience.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Where's Max Quordlepleen when you need him?

      ... not to mention the sweet trolley and a fine selection of Aldebaaran wines... I could do with either of them right now. Or both.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Where's Max Quordlepleen when you need him?

        Or you might fancy a nibble of my rump. It's very good. I've been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there's a lot of good meat there.

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: Where's Max Quordlepleen when you need him?

          :-O

          Get a room!

  5. Your alien overlord - fear me

    First UV blast was from the Death Star's main cannon, the 2nd was the star being ripped apart. That's what happens when you protect the rebel scum !!!!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
      FAIL

      Wouldn't be the Death Star, would Starkiller Base from Ep. VII

      1. James 51 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Guess it all depends on what you shoot it at. I am sure there is someone on the forums who can answer if the first or second death stars were able to destory an actual star.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          "able to destory an actual star."

          Whoever edited the script for Phantom Menace managed to destory it.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: "able to destory an actual star."

            But didn't the Death Star shoot first?

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: "able to destory an actual star."

              Disney will now shut the universe down for copyright infringement.

  6. TRT Silver badge

    So basically...

    novae and supernovae are the sputterings of a star collapsing due to a lack of thermo-nuclear pressure from the core balancing the force of gravity created by that core. i.e. a nearly spent atomic bomb blows up.

    This event was what happens when the gravity that holds a star together is overcome by an external gravitational force and the core, no longer contained by a shell of matter falling inwards, with all that thermo-nuclear pressure bursts out,. i.e. a fully fuelled atomic bomb goes off.

    Wow. Incredible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So basically...

      Technically, a H-bomb. It was fusion, not fission.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So basically...

      A supernova is triggered when something causes a sudden core collapse, driving the density/pressure/temperature ultra high and allowing a large fraction of the star's mass to fuse in seconds. Exposing a stellar core via tidal action ought to remove the pressure and stop fusion. Only the current heat store would be available to generate light.

      I'd guess that first burst was pretty small, and the second one where the star gets compressed onto the accretion disc is where the real action takes place.

      The hole's disc must enable considerable fusion when it's eating a star whole. And if it does, there is no thick outer shell of plasma to block and absorb the initial radiation burst, as with a supernova. No wonder it's so brilliant.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: So basically...

        Effectively smearing the explosion across a large area of space many times the size of the star to begin with.

        Awesome.

      2. annodomini2
        Boffin

        Re: So basically...

        Unless... the space time distortion is so intense that the compression on the star and subsequently the core is so intense as to cause a supernova.

        But as the compression would be uneven due to the intensity of the distortion the blast would be more directional than normal and combined with a potentially smaller star than usual (i.e. less matter around the core) so appear brighter as the blast as more direction to it and less energy is absorbed due to the smaller star.

  7. Sealand

    So - disruption really is the new black ...

  8. Magani
    Mushroom

    Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away...

    ...someone muttered, This is not the supernova you were looking for.

  9. m0rt Silver badge

    No one else found the fact that the event, dubbed ASASSN-15lh was a star being ASSASSiNated fairly noteworthy?

    It is a consipiracy, I tell you.

    1. Oh Bother

      ASSASSiNated?

      Surely you mean ASSASSiNeated?

      With due thanks to Ennesby :)

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: ASSASSiNated?

        What a load of Schlock.

  10. PhilipN Silver badge

    Massive black hole?

    Say what? We all know a black hole has enormous mass, i.e. massive but does he mean "extra large"? I'm lost. Thought all black holes were werry lickel.

    Time to give up the day job and learn astrophysics. Unless some kind and knowledgeable soul cares to explain.

    1. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: Massive black hole?

      Yes, they're little, but a massive black hole is a fat little one.

      A Supermassive black hole is an obese little one.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Massive black hole?

        It was a super massive attack.

        1. Ragarath Silver badge

          Re: Massive black hole?

          But mas has very little relation to size. Depends on how squidged it gets.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: Massive black hole?

            It all depends on how you're defining the black hole - are you referring to the quantum singularity at the middle where the volume is effectively nothing but the mass is ridiculously high, or are you referring to the volume of space contained within the event horizon? IIRC, the average density of a black hole with a volume of the known universe, would roughly be the average density of the known universe.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Massive black hole?

              It is likely that there is no volume of space inside an event horizon in same way as there is no volume of wood in a woodworm-hole.

              > the average density of a black hole with a volume of the known universe, would roughly be the average density of the known universe

              Yes. This is because the event horizon increase linearly with mass as opposed to with 1/r³ (something to do with the holographic database that defines the universe, but no-one has an idea what). Inside would look God knows how though, if at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Massive black hole?

      This one is on the order of 108 solar masses as I recall. Also of the Kerr-Newman variety which is spinning and probably carring electromagnetic charge. Anyway, that's supposed to have amplified the tidal effects.

    3. Axman

      Re: Massive black hole?

      Black Holes are sleight of hand objects. They are merely theoretically reduced to a singularity in the middle where all the mass congregates, but in actuality (because time slows down dramatically the further down the gravity well you descend, and so a second in the deep interior would correspond to billions of years out here on Earth's insignificant gravity wrinkle) no black hole would have had time to reach a singularity state - the matter would still be infalling (from the BH's perspective).

      Also, according to loop quantum gravity, the singularity can't form as it can't squeeze space down below the planck length - there's a limit to how much stuff can be squeezed into a finite space.

      Also, the mascara snake, fast and bulbous.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Beefheart - Thanks

        Not responding to my own post, which is bad form, but noticing with appreciation the Beefheart reference

  11. Tony S

    Just going to throw this out there

    Apparently, the Hubble telescope was conceived back in the late 1940's. Eventually launched in the 1980's, the total cost was US$ 1.3 billion. (I think that also includes the cost of the optics to correct the mirror polishing mistake.)

    The cost of the 2016 US Presidential Election was US$ 6.8 billion.

    I'll leave it to the individual readers to make up their own minds as to which was of more value.

    1. Florida1920
      Headmaster

      Re: Just going to throw this out there

      I'll leave it to the individual readers to make up their own minds as to which was of more value.

      The election is easier to understand if you think of the upcoming Trump "Administration" as a super-massive black hole and the United States as the once-shining star it's going to rip apart.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Just going to throw this out there

        The once-shining US star was last seen just before the Nixon administration, dude! Or maybe even earlier.

        The Deep State sure is out to make this election a post-electoral win for The Only Acceptable Candidate. I wouldn't rule out a "security incident" by some concerned, progressive but slightly aspie citizen armed with a Dragunova sourced directly (according to what the WaPo would print) from the USSRRussia. Who then gets a heart attack when apprehended. Madame Clinton president? It's more likely than you think.

        You know that's how it works.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just going to throw this out there

          Reading the shitstorm on the 'net, well....

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