Intense gamma-ray burst spells doom—for our models of gamma-ray bursts

Intense gamma-ray burst spells doom—for our models of gamma-ray bursts
Closest, most intense one we’ve observed yet.
by John Timmer – Nov 22 2013, 12:30pm EST

A massive star goes boom, leaving behind a black hole and sending off a burst of gamma rays. NSF

A massive star goes boom, leaving behind a black hole and sending off a burst of gamma rays.
NSF

Back in April, orbiting observatories started picking up the first indications of a gamma-ray burst. By the time observations wrapped up, the event (GRB 130427A) produced the largest outpouring of photons of any yet detected, and it set a record for the highest energy photon we’ve seen from these events. And because it was unusually close to Earth, GRB 130427A provided a wealth of information about these extreme events—and told us that we don’t really understand how they produce the gamma-rays that are their signature.

Yesterday’s issue of Science contains four papers that describe the event, partly because it was unusually well-documented. The enormous stars that produce gamma-ray bursts were much more common in the early Universe and, as a result, most of them occur out at the edge of the observable Universe. But GRB 130427A is an exception; the Universe was already about 10 billion years old when it happened, meaning the supernova that produced the gamma rays occurred less than four billion light years from Earth. As a result, ground-based instruments that were directed to the right area of the sky by the orbiting instruments were quickly able to identify the supernova involved (SN 2013cq).

Continue Learning: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/11/intense-gamma-ray-burst-spells-doomfor-our-models-of-gamma-ray-bursts/

 

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