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Yahoo! News Story - Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to Naked Eye - Yahoo! News

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  • Mark Andrew Holmes
    Mark Andrew Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@yahoo.com) has sent you a news article. (Email address has not been verified.) ... Personal message: Stellar Explosion Is Most
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      Mark Andrew Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent you a news article.
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      Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to Naked Eye - Yahoo! News

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080321/sc_space/stellarexplosionismostdistantobjectvisibletonakedeye

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    • Mark Andrew Holmes
      ... http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080321/sc_space/stellarexplosionismostdistantobjectvisibletonakedeye BLGD. Mark A. Holmes Begin story.-- Stellar Explosion
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        --- Mark Andrew Holmes <mahtezcatpoc@...> wrote:

        >
        > Mark Andrew Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent
        > you a news article.
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        > Personal message:
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        > Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to
        > Naked Eye - Yahoo! News
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        http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080321/sc_space/stellarexplosionismostdistantobjectvisibletonakedeye



        BLGD.

        Mark A. Holmes



        Begin story.--


        Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to
        Naked Eye

        SPACE.com staff

        SPACE.com Fri Mar 21, 11:02 AM ET

        A powerful stellar explosion that has shattered the
        record for the most distant object visible to the
        naked eye was detected by NASA's Swift satellite on
        Wednesday.

        The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst, also ranks
        as the most intrinsically bright object in the
        universe ever observed by humans.

        "It's amazing — we've been waiting for a flash this
        bright from a gamma-ray burst ever since Swift began
        observing the sky three years ago, and now we've got
        one that is so bright that it was visible to the naked
        eye even though its source is half-way across the
        universe," said David Burrows of Penn State
        University, who directs the continuing operation of
        Swift's X-ray telescope and the analysis of the data
        it collects.

        Gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous explosions in
        the universe since the Big Bang and occur when massive
        stars run out of nuclear fuel. The stars' cores
        collapse to form black holes or neutron stars and
        release an intense burst of high-energy gamma-rays and
        jets of energetic particles.

        The jets rip through space at nearly the speed of
        light, heating the surrounding interstellar gas like
        turbocharged cosmic blowtorches, often generating a
        bright afterglow.

        "These optical flashes from gamma-ray bursts are the
        most extreme such phenomena that we know of," said
        Swift science team member Derek Fox, also of Penn
        State. "If this burst had happened in our galaxy, it
        would have been shining brighter than the Sun for
        almost a minute — sunglasses would definitely be
        advised."

        Penn State astronomer and Swift team member Peter
        Meszaros said an unusual combination of circumstances
        may have made the burst's afterglow so exceptionally
        bright in the visible wavelengths of light.

        "When the jet that formed during the explosion of the
        star slammed into the surrounding gas clouds, shock
        waves were generated that heated the jet," he
        explained. "The exceptional brightness of this burst
        requires the jet to have just the right combination of
        magnetic fields and velocity, which occurs very
        rarely."

        Astronomers don't know for sure what made the burst,
        dubbed GRB 080319B, so bright, but further analysis of
        the event is under way. The burst could possibly have
        been more energetic than others, or the burst's energy
        may have been concentrated in a jet aimed directly at
        Earth.

        The afterglow of GRB 080319B was 2.5 million times
        more luminous than the most luminous supernova ever
        recorded, making it the most intrinsically bright
        object ever recorded.

        Astronomers have placed the star in the constellation
        Bo�tes. They have estimated it to be 7.5
        billion light years away from Earth, meaning the
        explosion took place when the universe was less than
        half its current age and before Earth formed.

        The most distant previous object that could be seen by
        the naked eye is the galaxy M33, a relatively short
        2.9 million light-years from Earth.

        The burst was detected by Swift at 2:12 EDT on March
        19 and was one of five gamma-ray bursts detected that
        day, the same day that famed science fiction writer
        Arthur C. Clarke died.

        "Coincidentally, the passing of Arthur C. Clarke seems
        to have set the universe ablaze with gamma-ray
        bursts," said Swift science team member Judith
        Racusin, a Penn State graduate student.




        --End story.


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