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The most powerful explosions in the universe may be even more exotic than scientists had thought.
There's a weird mix of order and chaos in the light blasted out by gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), brief but intense outbursts associated with the formation of black holes, a new study reports.
Results - Explosion - Place - Something - Happens
"The results show that, as the explosion takes place, something happens which causes the photons to be emitted with a different polarization direction," Merlin Kole, a researcher at the Department of Nuclear and Particle Physics at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, said in a statement.
"What this could be, we really don't know," added Kole, one of the new study's two lead authors.
Gamma-ray - Burst - Polarimetry - POLAR - China
The Gamma-ray Burst Polarimetry experiment POLAR launched aboard China's Tiangong-2 space lab on Sept. 15, 2016. The glowing green light mimics the scintillating light when a gamma-ray photon hits one of the instrument's 1,600 specially made scintillation bars. This illustration is based on a picture taken by a camera located several meters behind POLAR.
The most powerful GRBs are unleashed when massive stars go hypernova — an especially intense type of supernova — and then collapse to form black holes. (Astronomers think a less energetic class of GRB may flare up when two superdense stellar corpses known as neutron stars merge, forming a black hole.) These black holes emit jets of incredibly fast-moving material along their axes of rotation.
Scientists - GRB - Radiation - Jets - Information
Scientists think GRB radiation is produced within these narrow relativistic jets, but exactly how that happens is unclear. More information about GRB light could help — and that's where the new study, which was published online today...
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