Swift grb100621A
Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler


A stunner - that's what astronomers are calling the 2010 Solstice Burst, a gamma-ray burst detected by NASA's Swift Telescope. X-ray emission from this event, also known more prosaically as GRB 100621A, was so intense it briefly blinded Swift and overloaded Swift's photon counters - like "trying to catch a tsunami in a rain barrel", in the words of one astronomer. This is all the more impressive given the fact that the burst occurred at a distance of over five billion light years from earth. Astronomers believe this tremendous blast marks the sudden and violent metamorphosis of a very massive star into a black hole in some far-away galaxy. The image above shows a composite X-ray (in red and yellow) and ultraviolet (white) snapshot of the burst detected by Swift's X-ray and UV telescopes. While the burst is extremely bright in X-rays, it is undetectable in the ultraviolet.
Published: July 19, 2010

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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 Sunday, 25-Jul-2010 20:53:20 EDT