Fw: NUFOIA: Blast Traveled 9 Billion Light Years Astronomers Caught It OnCamera
Subject: NUFOIA: Blast Traveled 9 Billion Light Years Astronomers Caught
Date: vrijdag, 2. april 1999 8:10
An Almost-As-Big Bang
Gamma-Ray Burst Biggest Explosion Ever Seen
Blast Traveled 9 Billion Light Years
Astronomers Caught It On Camera
Gamma-ray burst, artist's rendering
CBS A recent gamma-ray burst was the biggest explosion ever seen, second
only to the "big bang" that gave birth to the universe, astronomers said
The burst of energy, caught on camera with the help of a complex link of
satellites, telescopes and e-mail, came from the far reaches of the
sending light, X-rays and radio waves two-thirds of the way across the
It looked so intense because it came as a beam of energy, rather than in an
explosion in all directions, the international team of astronomers said in
series of reports.
The explosion-probably caused by the birth of a black hole, or by the
collision of two massive stars known as neutron stars-was so enormously
powerful that it projected its energy across nine billion years worth of
Gamma ray bursts have long mystified astronomers. First seen by accident in
the late 1960s by U.S. scientists looking for Soviet nuclear weapons tests
space, they come without warning. Only the fading afterglow could be
in the past.
But thanks to a system set up by NASA and European scientists, on the
of January 23 orbiting detectors caught the burst. Within seconds a
was signaled that in turn woke up an observatory in New Mexico and caught
explosion on film.
"It's like the difference between watching two cars collide and coming on
accident scene several hours later," said physics professor Carl Akerlof of
the University of Michigan.
What they saw was extraordinarily bright. "If you had been gazing at that
spot with binoculars, you would have seen a 'star' appear, brighten, and
within minutes, an unbelievably violent event from the very edge of our
universe," said Galen Gisler, an astrophysicist at Los Alamos National
Laboratory in New Mexico.
In a series of papers published in the journals Nature and Science, the
of scientists described what they saw.
Shrinivas Kulkarni, an astronomer at the California Institute of
and colleagues looked at the "redshift" of the star-which tells how much
light has faded and changed as it traveled trillions of miles to reach the
The redshift is 1.6, which means the burst was very far away and thus
"It is 70 percent of the age of the universe," Kulkarni said. "So if you
think the universe is 12 billion years old, this is about nine billion
That also makes it nine billion light years away-a light year being equal
the distance light travels in one year at a speed of 189,000 miles a
or a total of about 5.9 trillion miles. This shocked astronomers.
"The object would be so bright that for the 100 seconds it was on, it
outshone the whole universe, which to me is an amazing concept," Kulkarni
"We were stunned," Caltech's George Djorgovski added in a statement. "This
was much further than we expected."
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All Rights Reserved.
� 1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved.
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