Scientists Observe Brightest Cosmic Explosion Ever Recorded
By David McAlary
18 February 2005
Astronomers have detected the brightest explosion ever witnessed in the
heavens. It was a flash of light from across our galaxy so powerful that
it bounced off the Moon and illuminated Earth's upper atmosphere. The
researchers say if the blast had occurred closer to Earth, it might have
lead to the death of much of the planet's life.
The monstrous cosmic explosion took place late in December, observed by
U.S. and European satellites and ground telescopes around the world. It
was impossible to miss. It was brighter than a full moon for a fraction of
a second, although it shone more brilliantly in high energy gamma rays
than in the lower energy visible light.
Astrophysicist David Palmer of the U.S. government's Los Alamos National
Laboratory says the amount of energy equaled 100,000 years worth of
sunlight. "In other words, this was as much energy during that tenth of a
second as all the other stars in the galaxy at that time, times over
1,000," he said.
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