Feeds

Cosmic flashbulb effect caused by 'black-hole invaders'

Whirly star-gobble intrusions to blame, seemingly

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Boffins at Leeds Uni say they have come up with a new explanation for the mysterious astronomical phenomena known as "gamma ray bursts" (GRBs) because they consist of bursts of gamma rays.

GRBs, originally noted by US military spy sats looking for evidence of surreptitious commie nuke tests, are puzzling because of their incredible power. According to NASA, the typical GRB flares "about a million trillion times as brightly as the Sun", lasting anywhere from a few milliseconds to a couple of hours.

The mysterious cosmic flashbulbs pop off about once a day from random directions in the sky, and boffins have struggled to work out what causes them ever since they were detected in the 1960s.

Of late, a leading theory has suggested that GRBs are caused following the explosive supernova demise of giant stars, which then collapse to form a central black hole girdled by a disc of matter. This disc then tends to belch axial jets of unfeasibly incandescent plasma heated by neutrino emissions. The incandescence of the jets is the source of the gamma rays in GRBs.

Now, however, some boffins have disparaged this theory, saying that neutrino heating can't possibly be sustained long enough to produce the lengthiest GRBs observed by the Swift satellite. They say it's likelier that rather the gamma zap mechanism involves the collapsing star spinning violently about the central black hole, so prolonging the destruction process as centripetal forces war with the hole's pull.

Leeds-based boffins have now come up with a new wrinkle on this model, in which a smallish passing black hole actually falls into a star. As it plunges toward the centre, the while consuming its host, it also sets the doomed star spinning furiously - so slowing the final cataclysm down enough to produce a longer GRB. Leeds Uni spokespersons describe such black holes as "invaders".

"The results correlate very well with observations from satellites,” says Professor Serguei Kommissarov of the Leeds mathematics department.

Proper hard-sums explanation is available here, and soon apparently in prestigious astroboffinry mag Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?