By KENNETH CHANG
Published: February 20, 2005
or a fraction of a second in December, a dying remnant of an exploded star let out of a burst of light that outshone the Milky Way’s other half-trillion stars combined, astronomers announced Friday.
Even on Earth, half a galaxy away, the starburst was one of the brightest objects ever observed in the sky, after the Sun and perhaps a few comets. The magnitude of the event caught most astronomers by surprise.
"Whoppingly bright," said Dr. Bryan M. Gaensler, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "It gave off more energy in 0.2 seconds than the Sun does in 100,000 to 200,000 years."