We've got pretty good here on our little blue orbit that orbits a relatively cool star, but the space is dark and full of horrors. In a new paper published in Astrophysical Journal, scientists using data from our NASA NASA telescope are discovering a discovery of an absolutely massive energy explosion recorded about 11,000 light-years away from Earth.
NICER, a high-tech sensor installed at the International Space Station, has discovered an incredible release of energy coming from a system known as the SAX J1808. Unlike our own solar system, the J1808 is a binary system, meaning that its heart is made up of two objects, not one.
In the case of J1808, the primary object is a neutron star. His companion is a brown dwarf, which is colder than a star but larger than the planet. The neutron star, also known as a pulsar, collects gas from the brown dwarf, and every so often this connection results in a real apocalyptic explosion.
The explosion itself lasts only a few seconds, but the amount of energy released when the furthest layers of the pulsed detonator awakens. As NASA explains in a new blog post, it will take 10 full days for our Sun to release the same amount of energy as pulsed rays into space in just 20 seconds.
"This outburst was remarkable," said lead researcher Peter Boult, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Maryland College Park. "We are seeing a two-tier change in brightness, which we think is caused by the ejection of certain layers of the pulsed surface and other features that will help us decode the physics of these powerful events."
It was the largest X-ray burst detected by the NICER observatory and was spotted back in August. The analysis and interpretation of the data took some time, of course, and the entire document describing the discovery was published recently.