Apr 05, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Mysterious Explosion Observed in NASA’s Deepest X-Ray Images

As our deep-space imaging technology improves, we’re beginning to observe strange and mysterious objects which defy our explanations and attempts at classification. Over the last year, several discoveries ranging from what appears to be a star-eating Dyson sphere to unexplained quantum anomalies which cause matter to blink in and out of existence are showing that the strangeness of our universe is beginning to eclipse that found in the realms of science fiction. 2017 is already promising to be another year of fascinating space mysteries thanks to recent images gathered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory: astronomers using the space-based research facility observed a mind-bogglingly powerful burst of X-rays coming from a faint galaxy in an area of deep space known as Chandra Deep Field South.

X-ray images of the burst, left, and photograph, right.

According to a Chandra lab press release defies all classification:

While scientists think this source likely comes from some sort of destructive event, its properties do not match any known phenomenon. This means this source may be of a variety that scientists have never seen before.

The researchers have published a pre-print version of their findings on arXiv.org, but their official findings will appear in the June 2017 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. According to their research, these astronomers believe this x-ray burst could represent “a new type of variable phenomena whose nature remains to be determined.”

The Chandra X-ray Observatory is beginning to reveal all sorts of strange phenomena in deep space.

Franz Bauer, an associate professor of astrophysics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago and one of this study’s authors, stated in a Penn State press release that astronomers are currently baffled by the phenomenon:

Ever since discovering this source, we’ve been struggling to understand its origin. It’s like we have a jigsaw puzzle but we don’t have all of the pieces.

Maybe this was the shockwave generated by an incredibly powerful alien weapon. Maybe Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, needed an X-ray on a pesky stress fracture he got while obliterating an entire galaxy. Or, maybe it was merely the result of some new kind of stellar process we have no precedent for. Who knows. Whatever the source of this X-ray burst is, it will likely remain a mystery; the galaxy is 11 billion light years away. However, researchers are hopeful that further X-ray observations could turn up similar phenomena that might help them piece together this intergalactic puzzle.

Eaters of worlds also need X-rays sometimes.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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