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You’ve heard of the “big bang” theory regarding the start of the universe?

Scientists say they recently detected a similar deep-space explosion, up to five times more powerful than any such blast observed previously.

“In some ways, this blast is similar to how the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 ripped off the top of the mountain,” lead study author Dr. Simona Giacintucci of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., told the BBC, referring to the volcano in Washington state.

When did the blast happen?

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“It happened very slowly — like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years,” Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, of the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, told Science Daily.

“It happened very slowly — like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years.”

— Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt

The study findings are reported in The Astrophysical Journal.

Researchers believe the explosion emanated from a colossal black hole located about 390 million light years from Earth.

Their curiosity was piqued when X-ray telescopes detected a curved edge on the Ophiuchus galaxy, a kind of deep-space mix of smaller galaxies, hot gas and dark matter, the BBC reported.

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They believed the edge might be the wall of a cavity created when material gushed forth from the black hole, the report said.

How large was the cavity? Big enough to accommodate 15 Milky Ways (our own galaxy, not the candy bar), researchers said.

Whether the blast will have any repercussions for Earthlings was unclear.

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