Studied since 2014, the spiral galaxy called ESO 253-G003 is located 570 million light years from our Solar System. That same year, the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae ( ASAS-SN ) spotted an explosion of light coming from ESO 253-G003 for the first time.
But while for years researchers thought that this explosion of light was due to a supernova, research presented during the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, supports the opposite. Indeed, apparently this galaxy would blink like this on a regular basis, which a supernova cannot do.
Following studies conducted by Anna Payne , astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and her colleagues, researchers were finally able to understand the origin of these light explosions regularly emitted by ESO 253-G003, and the frequency at which they occur.
Researchers have identified the nature of these repetitive emissions
It was in 2020, after reviewing the data provided by ASAS-SN, that Anna Payne realized that the flashes of ESO 253-G003 could not be the result of a supernova. While a supernova explosion can only happen once, Payne was able to detect a total of 17 flares – the gas releases causing these light emissions – at ESO 253-G003.
After extensive research, scientists figured out that ESO 253-G003 was actually two galaxies in the final stages of merging. In addition, a black hole formed in the process.
And regarding the repetitive explosions that Anna Payne and her team spotted, they would actually be the presence of this black hole, because every time a star passes near it, its matter is sucked up. What causes these flares.
Now, we understand much better these flares
Using data provided by the telescope Tess (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) NASA and those quickly reconcile via ASAS-SN, Payne and his team were able to learn more about ESO 253-G003 and flashes. Notably, that the phenomenon occurs every 114 days .
Then, according to estimates, with each approach causing these flashes, the black hole sucks up a mass equivalent to about 0.3% that of the Sun. This allows the star not to die directly.
However, we do not know how long this has lasted, and we also do not know how much time is left before this star goes out for good. Even so, according to predictions from Anna Payne and her team, the next flaring will take place in April, then August, if you're interested in the matter.