Artist’s impression of a Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transient

Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transients are characterised by their intense, blue light. They evolve rapidly, reaching peak brightness and fading again in a matter of days, unlike supernovae which take weeks or months. Drawing on data from several telescopes, including Gemini South, one half of the International Gemini Observatory operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, an international team of astronomers identified a transient, designated AT2023fhn and nicknamed ‘the Finch’, that shows all the tell-tale characteristics of an LFBOT with an additional, unexpected characteristic.

Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M. Garlick/M. Zamani

Extraordinary new space phenomenon mystifies scientists

Astronomy and astrophysics

Astrophysicists at the University of Oxford have helped to discover a spectacularly bright and unusual explosion in a galaxy 4.4 billion light-years away. The explosion, a fast blue optical transient (FBOT), is one of only a handful to have been discovered to date; Professor Stephen Smartt from the Department of Physics helped to discover this latest FBOT having discovered the very first FBOT in 2018. The findings have been published in the journal Nature