13 record-breaking space discoveries of 2023

In 2023, several astronomical records were broken, including the discovery of the highest-energy gamma ray ever seen coming from the sun. Previously, gamma-rays with energies up to 200 GeV had been detected, but the High-Altitude Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) in Mexico detected subatomic particles from solar gamma rays with energies up to 10 TeV. These gamma rays are thought to be produced by cosmic rays colliding with the solar atmosphere. The discovery raises questions about what is happening below the surface of the sun. However, these gamma rays are not the most powerful ever detected from the universe as a whole.

In another record-breaking event, gamma rays pushing 20 TeV were detected coming from the pulsar within the Vela supernova remnant. Pulsars are spinning neutron stars that emit gamma rays, and these gamma rays typically have energies up to a few hundred GeV. However, the gamma rays detected from the Vela pulsar surpass this limit and challenge our current understanding of how electrons are accelerated in strong magnetic fields.

The most intense explosion ever seen was discovered in a galaxy 8 billion light-years away. The explosion, cataloged as AT2021lwx, was ten times brighter than any known supernova and was still erupting at the time of discovery. Astronomers believe that this event is not an exploding star but rather a supermassive black hole consuming a massive cloud of gas, resulting in a tidal disruption event. This event has provided valuable insights into the changes that occur in the centers of galaxies over time.

The most distant fast radio burst (FRB) ever detected was also observed in 2023. FRBs are short bursts of radio waves that emit massive amounts of energy in a fraction of a second. The record-breaking burst, known as FRB 20220610A, traveled through space for 8 billion years before reaching us. It was detected by the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and further studied by the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The source of the burst was identified as a system of colliding galaxies that existed 8 billion years ago. The dispersion of the radio waves from the FRB provides insights into the intergalactic space it passed through and the presence of atomic matter.

Overall, these record-breaking astronomical events have expanded our knowledge of the sun, pulsars, explosions, and distant phenomena in the universe.

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