Scientists have detected traces of a massive explosion that originated from the Milky Way galaxy’s center millions of years ago. According to their findings, the explosion produced a flare that lasted for about 300,000 years.

In a new study submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, a team of scientists tracked down the source of a violent explosion in the Milky Way galaxy. The scientists noted that the event was so powerful that the shockwaves it caused can still be observed today in the Magellanic Stream, which is a high-velocity stream of gas located 200,000 light-years from Milky Way.

By analyzing the data collected by NASA and the European Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope, the scientist concluded that the explosion originated from Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*.

Initially, it was believed that the event took place between 1 and 3 million years ago. Through Hubble’s data, the scientists were able to narrow down the explosion’s time frame to 3.5 million years ago.

According to their findings, the explosion produced a powerful flare that sent a blast of energy and radiation to regions in space that are hundreds of thousands of light-years away. The scientists noted that the flare lasted for about 300,000 years.

Joss Bland-Hawthorn of the University of Sydney and one of the co-authors of the latest study, said that the flare from the blast was powerful enough to illuminate the galaxy.

“The flare must have been a bit like a lighthouse beam,” he said in a press release. “Imagine darkness, and then someone switches on a lighthouse beacon for a brief period of time.”

According to the scientists, the findings of their research go against the previous notions regarding the Milky Way. It was previously believed that the galaxy is a fairly inactive region. However, as suggested in the new study, it seems Milky Way is a dynamic galaxy.

“This is a dramatic event that happened a few million years ago in the Milky Way’s history,” co-author Lisa Kewley of the Australian National University said.

“A massive blast of energy and radiation came right out of the galactic center and into the surrounding material,” she added. “This shows that the center of the Milky Way is a much more dynamic place than we had previously thought.”

Milky Way
NASA satellite to study Milky Way's halo. Pictured, an artist's concept illustrating the new view of the Milky Way, along with other findings presented at the 212th American Astronomical Society meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The galaxy's two major arms (Scutum-Centaurus and Perseus) can be seen attached to the ends of a thick central bar, while the two now-demoted minor arms (Norma and Sagittarius) are less distinct and located between the major arms. NASA/JPL-Caltech