A massive cosmic explosion that began on March 28th continues to light up the sky from 3.8 billion light-years away, deep in the constellation of Draco.
In the time of the Old Kingdom dynasty in Egypt, Draco was the pole star, where one of the shafts of the Great Pyramid lined up with its celestial influence. As one of the oldest documented constellations, Draco was known across civilization under many names pertaining to its prominent status, like the "Judge of Heaven."
Now the great dragon is roaring again with an explosion that appears to be a gamma-ray burst of massive proportions, and has astronomers stumped to exactly what occurred. According to NASA officials never before has the human-eye seen such a bright, long-lasting, and fluctuating explosion.
Although gamma-ray bursts are one of the most powerful stellar documented phenomenon, their flaring emissions "never last more than a few hours," unlike this phenomenon, which is millions of times more powerful than the objects in our own galaxy that produce such bursts.
Astronomers believe that the event may have been caused by a star being ripped apart by tidal forces from the galaxy's central super-massive black hole, that "formed an out flowing jet, which is blasting powerful X-rays and gamma rays in our direction."
Image: "NASA telescopes..." by NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.