29 November 2023

LFBOTs (Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transients)

LFBOTs (Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transients)... erupt with blue light, radio, X-ray, and optical emissions, making them some of the brightest explosions ever seen in space, as luminous as supernovae. It is no exaggeration that they give off more energy than hundreds of billions of stars like our own. They also tend to live fast, blazing for only minutes before they burn themselves out and fade into darkness.

LFBOTs are quite rare, and in many cases their sources are unidentified. But we’ve never seen anything with the intensity of an LFBOT named AT2022tsd—aka the “Tasmanian Devil.” Its strange behavior was caught by 15 telescopes and observatories, including the W.M. Keck Observatory and NASA’s Chandra Space Telescope. Like other phenomena of its kind, it initially emitted incredible amounts of energy and then dimmed. Unlike any other LFBOT observed before, however, this one seemed to come back from the dead. It flared again—and again and again.

The most common extragalactic transient luminous events, meaning flashes of light that evolve and vanish rapidly, are supernovae. The lifespan of their initial explosion is typically mere weeks. The “Tasmanian Devil” not only evolved faster than a supernova, but 14 individual flares were observed, lighting up over a stretch of several months, or about a hundred days...
The analysis continues at Ars Technica.

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