Cosmic Explosion From Death Of Massive Star Confirmed As Brightest Gamma Ray Burst Ever Seen [VIDEO]
The explosion provided never before seen details and insight into gamma ray bursts and powerful stellar explosions.
The brightest gamma ray burst ever recorded was the result of a powerful stellar explosion, a finding that provides scientists with new information on the mysterious phenomenon.
The explosion produced a jet of matter moving close to the speed of light, which was formed when a massive star collapsed creating a black hole at its center. As a result, a blast wave caused the rest of the star to expand outwards, producing a glowing shell of debris observed as an extremely bright supernova.
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The research on the gamma ray burst, designated GRB 130427A, was published in the journal Science in a paper led by Alessandro Maselli of the INAF, the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, in Palermo, Italy. The research concludes that this gamma ray burst has properties consistent with that of much more distant examples.
The blast of light from the dying star in a distant galaxy became the focus of astronomers on April 27, according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The explosion provided never before seen details captured by a trio of NASA satellites, including NASA's Swift satellite, the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope, and ground-based robotic telescopes.
"We suddenly saw a gamma ray burst that was extremely bright — a monster gamma ray burst," said co-author Daniele Malesani, an astrophysicist at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "This was one of the most powerful gamma ray bursts we have ever observed with the Swift satellite."
Gamma ray bursts are relatively rare phenomena, but the study of their behavior under extreme conditions allows researchers to continue to understand the laws of physics.
"We expect to see an event like this only once or twice a century, so we're fortunate it happened when we had the appropriate collection of sensitive space telescopes with complementary capabilities available to see it," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division.
The details of GRB 130427A have challenged current theories of how gamma ray bursts work, according to NASA.
"We normally detect GRBs at great distance, meaning they usually appear quite faint. In this case the burst happened only a quarter of the way across the universe, meaning it was very bright," said Paul O'Brien, a professor in the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy. "On this occasion, a powerful supernova was also produced, something we have not recorded before alongside a powerful gamma ray burst and we will now be seeking to understand this occurrence."
An animation shows the most common type of gamma ray burst thought to occur when a massive star collapses, forms a black hole and blasts particle jets outward at nearly the speed of light. A Fermi image of the gamma ray burst designated GRB 130427A ends the sequence.
(Video credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
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