Forget the spectacular explosions we create here on Earth. The Universe outdoes us in every way imaginable.
Forget mere chemical reactions; in space, matter-energy conversion creates unprecedentedly powerful explosive events.
Here are the 7 most powerful natural displays of cosmic fireworks.
7.) Type Ia supernova: when two white dwarf stars collide, they initiate a runaway fusion reaction, destroying both stellar remnants.
6.) Core-collapse supernova: when a supermassive star runs out of fuel in its core, it collapses, releasing energy and forming a central neutron star or black hole.
5.) Hypernova: ultramassive stars create particle/antiparticle pairs inside them, causing a catastrophic collapse and a star-destroying explosion. They’re the most energetic variety of supernova.
4.) Quasars: as supermassive black holes feed on matter, they heat and accelerate it, emitting high-energy light and easily outshining entire galaxies.
3.) Neutron star mergers: directly observed by LIGO and then via electromagnetic signals, they convert mass into energy directly in a tremendous burst.
2.) Gamma ray bursts: a special case of neutron star mergers or supernovae, these arise from extremely collimated jets, providing the brightest electromagnetic signals in the Universe.
1.) Black hole mergers: at the moment of the merger, they can convert many solar masses into pure energy, outshining all the Universe’s stars combined.
In terms of energy released, only the Big Bang was more energetic.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the scientific, cosmic story of an astronomical object, phenomenon, or category in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less, smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.