Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are one of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe and something that astronomers have been studying furiously to learn more about their origins. In recent years, astronomers have set new records for the most powerful GRB ever observed – this includes GRB 190114C, observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2019, and GRB 221009A, detected by the Gemini South telescope in 2022. The same is true for high-energy cosmic rays that originate from within the Milky Way, whose origins are still not fully understood.
In a recent study, members of China’s Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO) Collaboration discovered a massive gamma-ray burst (designated GRB 221009A) in the Cygnus star-forming region that was more powerful than 10 peta-electronvolts (PeV, 1PeV=1015eV), over ten times the average. In addition to being the brightest GRB studied to date, the team was able to precisely measure the energy spectrum of the burst, making this the first time astronomers have traced cosmic rays with this energy level back to their source.
You’d think that something happening billions of light-years away wouldn’t affect Earth, right? Well, in 2002, a burst of gamma rays lasting 800 seconds actually impacted our planet. They came from a powerful and very distant supernova explosion. Its gamma-ray bombardment disturbed our planet’s ionosphere and activated lightning detectors in India.
A recent study published in Nature investigates recent observations from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and ground-based telescopes of heavy elements within the ejected material of a recent gamma-ray burst (GRB), classified as GRB 230307A, that was likely produced by a kilonova with GRB 230307A being designated as the second-brightest GRB ever detected. The heavy element in question is the chemical element tellurium, which is classified as a metalloid on the periodic table. However, scientists also hypothesize that the element iodine, which is a requirement for most of life on the Earth and classified as a reactive nonmetal, could also exist within the kilonova’s explosion, with both elements residing side-by-side on the periodic table.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are some of the most violent events in the universe. Some have a power output equivalent to all of the other stars in the observable universe, at least in the spectrum of gamma rays. But we know very little about them. A new paper from researchers on an interdisciplinary team from seven countries puts forth a new theory about how at least one type of GRB happens – when a binary of two specific types of stars collapses and forms a black hole.
On October 9, 2022, a gamma-ray burst illuminated the solar system. Its light had traveled 2.4 billion years to reach us, having begun its journey when only bacteria and archaea existed on the Earth and oxygen was not yet plentiful in our air. Despite its long journey, the flash of light was tremendously bright.
Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful astrophysical phenomena in the universe. For a span of seconds to a few minutes, they can be the most powerful high-energy event in the sky, shining across billions of light years. But recently astronomers detected a GRB that lasted more than a thousand seconds, with two blasts of gamma rays that triggered the Fermi Gamma Ray Burst Monitor. It’s such a strange cosmic event that astronomers aren’t sure what caused it, but they do have a possible idea.
If you’re an evil genius supervillain looking to freak out your enemy with a big messy space kablooie, here’s a novel way to do it. Smack a couple of ancient star remnants together right in front of your nemesis. The result will give you a gratifyingly huge, bright explosion plus a bonus gamma-ray burst visible across the Universe. And, it’ll scare everybody into doing your evil bidding.
Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the most energetic recurring events in the Universe. Only the Big Bang was more energetic, and it was a singularity. Astronomers see GRBs in distant Universes, and a lot of research has gone into understanding them and what causes them.
A new paper is upending some of what scientists thought they knew about these extraordinary explosions.
Gamma-ray bursts come in two main flavors, short and long. While astronomers believe that they understand what causes these two kinds of bursts, there is still significant overlap between them. A team of researchers have proposed a new way to classify gamma-ray bursts using the aid of machine learning algorithms. This new classification scheme will help astronomers better understand these enigmatic explosions.
Way out in the universe, a long time ago, a proto-magnetar was born. The birth was heralded by a gamma-ray burst (GRB), followed by a blast of strange emissions. Astronomers once assumed that GRBs like this came from black hole births. However, observations of the new object by astronomers in England show there’s more than one way to cause a GRB. And, there’s more than one type of GRB.