Credit: Darach Watson (Dark Cosmology Centre, University of Copenhagen) and ESA
Long Distance Champion
Gamma-ray Bursts are extreme explosions - so powerful, they are second only in energy to the Big Bang. Once a mystery, they are now understood as either explosions of very massive stars, or the merger of neutron stars in binary pairs. They also serve as lanterns shining through the Universe almost back to the very beginning of time. Because they can be seen for large distances they provide extremely efficient ways to find very distant galaxies. The new champion was pinpointed by an explosion which was detected on April 23, 2009. This GRB, called GRB 090423, was first detected by the Swift observatory, and subsequent notice led to ground-based and other space-based observations. Ground-based observations with the powerful Gemini North Telescope showed this burst was associated with a galaxy at an enormous distance. A distance so enormous that the burst actually occured when the Universe was only one-twentieth of its current age. The image above shows X-rays produced by the "afterglow" of the Gamma-ray burst, as seen by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory.
Published: November 09, 2009
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Sunday, 15-Nov-2009 19:37:34 EST