1429 BATSE Gamma-Ray Bursts
The Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) of the
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO)
What Are Cosmic Gamma-Ray Bursts?
- Cosmic Gamma-Ray Bursts are sudden flashes of high energy radiation
which come at random times from random directions, briefly dominating the
gamma-ray sky and then fading - leaving no trace of their origin!
- The mysterious source of these cosmic gamma-ray bursts, discovered
one quarter-century ago by satellite detectors, is still unknown. No identifiable
counterpart object has been seen at any other wavelength. The Gamma-Ray
Burst mystery is one of the most popular and long standing mysteries in
- Some very fundamental outstanding questions;
- How far away are the burst sources?
- What objects generate the bursts?
- How do they generate high energy gamma-rays?
- Do the bursters represent "New Physics"?
- Identifying a counterpart which could be studied at other wavelengths
would solve the fundamental problems of origin and distance scale.
- Gamma-ray bursts can only be detected from space-based observatories.
CGRO can detect the bursts at a rate of about 1/day but can only localize
the source to a field a few degrees in size - containing hundreds of stars
and galaxies. It is impossible to tell which (if any!) is associated with
- Localizations of the bursts in arc-second sized fields using capabilities
designed into new gamma-ray missions (e.g., BASIS, GLAST, BLAST, ETA) could
solve the problem by reducing the huge number of confusing sources in the
burst field - greatly reducing or eliminating the confusion of possible
burst sources and permitting the identification of a counterpart.
- Detailed High Energy observations of the bursts by the new missions
will constrain distances to the sources and the physics of the bursts.
BLAST, ETA, EXIST, HETE, GLAST