Unusual deep-space gamma-ray nova
- I'm thinking that since it's gamma rays (shorter wavelengths than
visible light), there might be some spiritual influence here. I don't
know what it might be, yet.
Story below. (Links do expire.)
Mark A. Holmes
Odd cosmic blast puzzles astronomers
Updated: 6:59 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2006
WASHINGTON - A new kind of cosmic explosion has been spotted in
Earth's celestial neighborhood, and amateur astronomers in the
Northern Hemisphere might be able to see it next week, scientists
The blast seemed a lot like a gamma-ray burst, the most distant and
powerful type of explosion known to astronomers.
But when scientists first detected it with NASA's Swift satellite on
Feb. 18, the explosion was about 25 times closer and lasted 100 times
longer than a typical gamma-ray burst.
"This is totally new, totally unexpected," said Neil Gehrels, Swift's
principal investigator. "This is the type of unscripted event in our
nearby universe that we hoped Swift could catch."
The explosion originated in a star-forming galaxy about 440 million
light-years away toward the constellation Aries the Ram. A light-year
is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers), the distance light
travels in a year.
This would be the second-closest gamma-ray burst ever detected, if
indeed it is one.
The burst lasted for nearly 2,000 seconds, or about 33 minutes,
astronomers said in a statement. Most bursts last a few milliseconds
to tens of seconds. It also was surprisingly dim.
Scientists at Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics found hints
of a budding supernova an exploding star when they saw the
afterglow from the original explosion grow brighter in optical light.
If it is a supernova, scientists will have an unprecedented view of
one from start to finish.
Scientists will attempt observations with the Hubble Space Telescope
and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Amateur astronomers with dark skies
above might be able to see the explosion with a 16-inch telescope.
More information and images are available online from NASA's Swift Web