Light From 12 BILLION Year Old Explosion Reaches Earth
Geplaatst op 08 juni 2014 - 10:21
A gamma ray burst that occurred 12.1 billion years ago has been detected, marking one of the earliest known examples of these ultra-powerful explosions. It's also one of the brightest ever seen. Gamma-Ray bursts are rare but exceptionally powerful explosions, thought to occur as neutron stars form or merge.
As the name suggests, Gamma Ray Bursts are first seen in the high energy part of the electromagnetic spectrum, but the afterglow can be seen at other wavelengths. After being alerted by the Swift Satellite to the presence of a burst ground based telescopes race to capture the “optical tail”. In this case it took just 55 seconds from Swift's reporting of the event to first detection on the ground.
GRB 140419A was observed at 11pm on April 19 by SMU's robotic telescope. This is not the oldest gamma ray burst identified. GRB 090423 is thought to have occurred 13 billion years ago, when the universe was 4% of its current age. However, it was astonishingly bright for such a distant object. SMU's Professor Robert Kehoe pointed out that its 12th magnitude brightness is only ten times dimmer than what can bee seen with backyard binoculars.
The exact cause of Gamma Ray Bursts is still debated, however, in most cases the association with supernovae is clear. "Gamma-ray bursts may be particularly massive cousins to supernovae, or may correspond to cases in which the explosion ejecta are more beamed in our direction. By studying them, we learn about supernovae," said Kehoe. The same SMU-run telescope tracked the glow of an almost equally distant, but not as bright, four days later.
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