A supernova has been spotted that is twice as luminous as the previous record holder — at its peak it blazed brighter than 570 billion Suns.

Subo Dong at Peking University in Beijing and his colleagues spotted the exploding star, called ASASSN-15lh, in June last year using an automated telescope survey of the sky. The object belongs to a class of 'superluminous' supernovae that are low in hydrogen. Whereas other hydrogen-poor supernovae reside in dim dwarf galaxies, this one seems to originate near the centre of a massive galaxy that is brighter than the Milky Way.

ASASSN-15lh challenges previous theories of explosion mechanisms and how supernovae are powered, the authors say.

Science 351, 257–260 (2016)