Afterglow of GRB 050904
Credit: Dr. Daniel Reichart

Long Ago and Far Away

Gamma-ray bursts are the brightest things we know about. This means that even if they are very distant, they can still be bright enough to be detected by us. On September 4, 2005, a burst was detected by the Swift Gamma-ray observatory. Swift swiftly sent the position of the burst to ground to allow immediate optical follow-up observations. The optical afterglow of the gamma-ray burst, shown above, was detected by researchers using the Southern Observatory for Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope atop Cerro Pachon, Chile. The image above shows the fading of the burst afterglow. These observations allowed astronomers to determine the distance of the burst. The burst is an astounding 13.7 billion lightyears from earth, and occurred only 0.5-1 billion years after the big bang.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:28:21 EDT