Feeds

NASA 'scope captures ferocious gamma ray burst

Energy of 9,000 ordinary supernovae

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's has captured a hi-res image of a gamma-ray burst boasting "the greatest total energy, the fastest motions and the highest-energy initial emissions ever seen".

The explosion, known to its chums as GRB 080916C, was detected on 15 September last year in the constellation Carina at a distance of 12.2 billion light-years from Earth. It was captured by Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) and the GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM) which between them recorded "the blast's initial, or prompt, gamma-ray emission from energies between 3,000 to more than 5 billion times that of visible light".

NASA's Swift satellite subsequently deployed its UltraViolet/Optical and X-ray telescopes to provide this image of the explosion's X-ray afterglow:

GRB 080916C's X-ray afterglow. Pic: NASA

Peter Michelson, the principal investigator on Fermi's Large Area Telescope, enthused: "We were waiting for this one. Burst emissions at these energies are still poorly understood, and Fermi is giving us the tools to understand them."

To put the scale of the burst in prespective, NASA says it "exceeded the power of approximately 9,000 ordinary supernovae, if the energy was emitted equally in all directions". The agency explains that this is "a standard way for astronomers to compare events even though gamma-ray bursts emit most of their energy in tight jets".

Scientists used the event's distance and Fermi readings to calculate "the slowest speeds possible for material emitting the prompt gamma rays" - a figure of 99.9999 per cent of the speed of light. The burst's "tremendous power and speed make it the most extreme recorded to date", NASA notes.

Fermi's oberservation are helping scientists understand exactly what provokes these massive outpouring of energy. NASA explains that "most occur when exotic massive stars run out of nuclear fuel", provoking the core to collapse into a black hole.

As the star crumples inwards, jets of material are ejected into space at high speed - "powered by processes not yet fully understood". The afterglow effect is caused by the jets interacting with gas previously shed by the star, NASA notes.

There's more on the event, including info on further observations by the Gamma-Ray Burst Optical/Near-Infrared Detector on the 2.2-meter telescope at the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile, right here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.