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Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are one of the most energetic phenomena in the Universe, and also one of the least researched. These explosions of energy occur when a massive star goes supernova and emits twin beams of gamma rays that can be seen billions of light-years away. Because they are closely tied with the formation of black holes, scientists have been eager to study this rare occurrence in greater detail.
Unfortunately, few opportunities for this have occurred since GRBs are very short-lived (lasting for just seconds) and most have happened in distant galaxies. But thanks to the efforts using a suite of telescopes, astronomers were able to spot a GRB (designated GRB 190114C) back in January of 2019. Some of the radiation from this GRB was the highest energy ever observed, making this a milestone in the history of astronomy.
Study - Findings - Observation - Compton - Emissions
The study that describes these findings (titled “Observation of inverse Compton emissions from a long gamma-ray burst“) recently appeared in the journal Nature and is due to appear in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. The study was led by Antonio de Ugarte Postigo of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía and included members of the MAGIC collaboration, NASA, and research institutes around the world.
To put it plainly, GRBs are actually quite common, occurring about once per day in the observable Universe. But because of their brief and fleeting nature, it has been very difficult to train instruments on the source before they disappear. But with the help of multiple telescopes that are optimized for gamma-ray detection, GRB 190114 was observed just in time.
NASA - Neil - Gehrels - Swift - Observatory
This included NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, as well as the ground-based twin Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes – which is located on the Canary Island of La Palma and operated by the Max...
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