Big Bang wasn't that big after all; Astronomers detect a larger explosion

big bang

Using a group of radio telescopes, scientists studying a far-away galaxy cluster have discovered the most enormous explosion seen in the Universe ever since the Big Bang. The blast came from a supermassive black hole lying at the center of the Ophiuchus galaxy, which is 390 million light-years away from Earth.

Crux of the Matter

The Beginning of the Beginning
The Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation behind how the universe began and its age. It states that everything started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos of today. In layman’s terms, astronomers can see the “echo” of the expansion through a phenomenon called the cosmic microwave background (CMB) using a bunch of mathematical formulas and models.

NASA had stated that “This early soup would have been impossible to look at because light could not carry inside of it. The free electrons would have caused light (photons) to scatter the way sunlight scatters from the water droplets in clouds.” This afterglow or CMB was first predicted by Ralph Alpher and other scientists in 1948 but was found only by accident almost 20 years later.

The Telescopes that Unearthed the Energy Eruption
The finding was made using X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton, and radio data from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), Australia and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), India.
Co-author Melanie Johnston-Hollitt happily said, “It’s a bit like archaeology. We’ve been given the tools to dig deeper with low-frequency radio telescopes so we should be able to find more outbursts like this now.” Observations with 4096 antennas would be made in times ahead, which would be ten times more sensitive and efficient in detection than the current 2048 antennas.

Evidence for the Theory
The astronomers saw a mighty big cavity in the cluster’s plasma, which is the boiling gas surrounding the black hole. Similarities were drawn to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, which ripped the top off the mountain. Meanwhile, the cavity had been seen previously with X-ray telescopes back in 2016 but the discovery was majorly dismissed as unlikely, because of the relatively lesser size of the outburst.

Now the 2016 x-ray telescopes data has been matched with fresh data from radio telescopes. Dr. Maxim Markevitch from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center enthusiastically told a top science journal, “The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove. This is the clincher that tells us an eruption of unprecedented size occurred here.”


A black hole – is a region of space-time exhibiting gravitational acceleration so strong that nothing—no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform space-time to form a black hole. The boundary of the region from which no escape is possible is called the event horizon. Although the event horizon has an enormous effect on the fate and circumstances of an object crossing it, no locally detectable features appear to be observed.

In many ways, a black hole acts like an ideal black body, as it reflects no light. Moreover, quantum field theory in curved space-time predicts that event horizons emit Hawking radiation, with the same spectrum as a black body of a temperature inversely proportional to its mass. This temperature is on the order of billionths of a kelvin for black holes of stellar mass, making it essentially impossible to observe. More Info