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Friday, May 10, 2013

Gamma-ray burst solved

It’s been a while since I posted a fabulous NASA animation. To remedy that lapse, here’s a clip about a gamma-ray burst. But first, a bit of background information.

Like the name implies, gamma-ray bursts are sudden eruptions of gamma-rays. As you can see from the diagram below, gamma rays produce the highest energy radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum. When you get a giant burst of them, the result is the brightest explosion in the universe.

On December 25, 2010, one such event was captured by NASA’s Swift spacecraft. The question was, what had caused it? That puzzle may have been recently solved by Andrew Levan of the University of Warwick and his colleagues. I'll let them explain:

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