AT2018cow, also commonly referred to as the ‘the Cow,’ was an incredibly bright flash of light that astronomers discerned in their telescopes last year. Astronomers initially thought that it might have been a supernova, but it was just too bright to be one.
Given the circumstances, scientists were tasked with devising an alternative theory for what might’ve caused this transient astronomical event. One of their best explanations encompasses the idea that a black hole might’ve swallowed a white dwarf star, resulting in a powerful explosion as the black hole tore the hot and dense star apart.
This video, serving as a visual representation, illustrates what scientists believe might’ve happened to cause the bright explosion witnessed by astronomers last year. After the star falls into the black hole, we’re left with a hot, opaque sphere and a surrounding ‘cocoon’ of brightness.
The representation is based entirely from theory since we can’t replicate something of this scale to observe it up close. While it’s the best that scientists have been able to come up with to this day, you can bet they’re still considering other possibilities as to what may have caused the infamous ‘Cow.’
It should be interesting to see how this pans out.