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June 2016 – SPACE – Astronomers are not entirely sure what it is. If, as they suspect, the gas ball is the result of a supernova, then it’s the most powerful supernova ever seen. In June of 2015, astronomers viewed a ball of hot gas billions of light years away that is radiating the energy of hundreds of billions of suns. Even in a discipline that regularly uses gigantic numbers to express size or distance, the case of this small but powerful mystery object in the center of the gas ball is extreme. At its heart is an object a little larger than 10 miles across. ASAS-SN-15lh, as the object is known, was twice as luminous as any previously seen, far brighter than any normal supernova, and outshone our entire Milky Way galaxy by 50 times.
The artist’s impression below shows what it would look like from an exoplanet 10,000 light-years away in its home galaxy. The team reported that the object at the center could be a very rare type of star called a magnetar–but one so powerful that it pushes the energy limits allowed by physics. An international team of professional and amateur astronomers spotted the possible supernova, now called ASASSN-15lh, when it first flared to life in June 2015.
The gas ball surrounding the 10 mile wide object can’t be seen with the naked eye because its 3.8 billion light years from Earth. Though ASAS-SN has discovered some 250 supernovae since the collaboration began in 2014, the explosion that powered ASASSN-15lh stands out for its sheer magnitude. It is 200 times more powerful than the average supernova, 570 billion times brighter than our sun, and 20 times brighter than all the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy combined. “We have to ask, how is that even possible?” said Krzysztof Stanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State. “It takes a lot of energy to shine that bright, and that energy has to come from somewhere.”
“The honest answer is at this point that we do not know what could be the power source for ASASSN-15lh,” said Subo Dong, lead author of the Science paper and a Youth Qianren Research Professor of astronomy at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University. He added that the discovery “may lead to new thinking and new observations of the whole class of superluminous supernova.” Todd Thompson, professor of astronomy at Ohio State, offered one possible explanation. The supernova could have spawned an extremely rare type of star called a millisecond magnetar, a rapidly spinning and very dense star with a very strong magnetic field.
To shine so bright, this particular magnetar would also have to spin at least 1,000 times a second, and convert all that rotational energy to light with nearly 100 percent efficiency, Thompson explained. It would be the most extreme example of a magnetar that scientists believe to be physically possible. “Given those constraints,” he said, “will we ever see anything more luminous than this? If it truly is a magnetar, then the answer is basically no.” –Daily Galaxy
EXCERPT: It’s a big deal because one hasn’t been visible from the continental United States in 37 years and one hasn’t passed over the country in almost 100 years.
A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking out a significant chunk of the Sun’s rays.
So what does the Bible have to say about this strange natural occurrence?
There’s passages scattered throughout scripture that talk about the sun being blacked out or darkness descending on the land.
Sounds kind of like an eclipse, right?
During the plagues of Egypt, God covered the land in a darkness. Exodus 10:21-23 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.” So Moses lifted his hand to the sky, and a deep darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days. During all that time the people could not see each other, and no one moved. But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived."
And during Jesus’ crucifixion in the New Testament, something similar happens.
Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon," says Mark 15:32-33.
There are also biblical prophecies about the sun going dark.
Revelation 6:12 reads, “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.”
And different passages in different books predict what seems to be the same thing.
Matthew 24:29 also foretells a sort of eclipse, or something like one. It says, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened.” Mark 13:24 essentially says the same thing.
And both Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 say that the sun has to go dark, and the moon must turn “into blood,” before the “day of the Lord,” happens.
So while this may be a strange occurrence, it’s no secret to God or the authors of the Bible. In fact, many believe that God uses signs and wonders in the heavens to communicate with His people.
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