Gamma ray bursts are among the most energetic events in space, and their light sometimes reaches Earth. However, one of the gamma-ray bursts stunned even NASA researchers.
The gamma-ray burst that reached NASA’s Fermi moon on August 26, 2020 was unusually short and unusually violent. Such explosions are usually caused by a supernova – that is, a massive star explodes just before it collapses into a black hole.
Record-breaking radiation eruption
Other cosmic events – for example the collision of neutron stars – can lead to a gamma-ray burst – the GRB – which is then much shorter. GRB 200826A, named after the date of its discovery, lasted less than a second – an all-time record. However, all other characteristics of the rays indicate that the outbreak must have occurred when a star died.
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No wonder two studies addressed GRB 200826A, which has now been published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Bin Bin Zhang of Nanjing University in China and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas led one such group. “We already knew that GRBs for giant stars can be measured as short GRBs, but we thought this was due to equipment limitations,” Zhang was quoted as saying by Scitechdaily. “We now know that dying stars can also shoot short bursts.”
A star faded – with a massive release of energy
“We think that event eventually died out,” says Thomas Ahumada of the University of Maryland, who led the second study. “However, the eruption created 14 million times the amount of energy generated by the Milky Way in the same amount of time, making this the most energetic event ever from a GRB.”
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Gamma-ray bursts are a subject of astronomical research over and over again, as they provide information about what is happening or has happened in distant galaxies. Because light rays can travel billions of light years. GRB 200826A assumes that its light has traveled to us half the time that the universe has existed.
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