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Re: [Wanna be Astronomers] Good article about Gamma Ray Bursts

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  • jefftibb
    Richard, Are there any stories in the book you could tell us? I d love to hear more.
    Message 1 of 5 , May 31, 2002
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      Richard,

      Are there any stories in the book you could tell us?

      I'd love to hear more.


      --- In wannabeastronomers@y..., Richard Smith <smith10786@y...> wrote:
      > Yes, the document you cite is a good brief summary of
      > gamma-ray bursts. If you want to know more, there is
      > a new popular book (The Biggest Bangs, from Oxford U.
      > Press, by J. I. Katz) on gamma-ray bursts, telling the
      > whole story, now in bookstores, available from
      > amazon.com, etc. The story and the book are
      > fascinating, with lots of twists and turns, both
      > scientific and human. If Sagan had written a book
      > about gamma-ray bursts, he would have written this
      > one.
      >
      > --- jefftibb <jefftibb@y...> wrote:
      > > I found this overview document about Gamma Ray
      > > Bursts and thought
      > > that it told the story very well. So I am
      > > reproducing it here.
      > >
      > > For over 30 years Gamma Ray Bursts have been one of
      > > the very top
      > > mysteries in astronomy. Since they come from all
      > > directions of the
      > > sky and no one could even tell how far away they
      > > were, no one knew
      > > their source. They could be coming from our own
      > > solar system, or from
      > > the stars in our neighborhood of the Milky Way, or
      > > from billions of
      > > light years away. Nobody really knew although
      > > theories for all of the
      > > above and more sprang up like weeds.
      > >
      > > The problem was that their intense energy blast
      > > faded so quickly that
      > > no one could even pinpoint the direction it came
      > > from before it was
      > > gone. Therefore we could not turn any optical or
      > > radio telescopes in
      > > their direction to look for any other wavelengths of
      > > what is
      > > called 'afterglow'.
      > >
      > > But in 1997 an Italian gamma ray satelite named
      > > BeppoSAX broke
      > > through for us and gave quick directions to the
      > > point of origin of
      > > several of these blasts. Astronomers quickly turned
      > > their telescopes
      > > of all types in the right direction and have found
      > > quickly fading
      > > remnants of the impulse in other wavelegths.
      > >
      > > We now believe that these Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs)
      > > are caused by
      > > extremely large supernovea, or 'hypernovea' that
      > > occur in young
      > > galaxies with lots of free floating gas and dust
      > > available for new
      > > star formation.
      > >
      > > The article:
      > > http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/pr/vla20/grb.html
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      > __________________________________________________
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    • Richard Smith
      One good story is how a bunch of physicists and engineers built a system of satellites (Vela) to detect clandestine nuclear bomb tests in space. They didn t
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 2, 2002
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        One good story is how a bunch of physicists and engineers built a system of satellites
        (Vela) to detect clandestine nuclear bomb tests in space. They didn't find any bombs
        but beginning in 1967 discovered gamma-ray bursts, although they didn't realize what
        they were observing until 1972. They made a great astronomical discovery without
        realizing that they were doing astronomy.

        A great story is Carl Akerlof's discovery of the ``holy grail'' of gamma-ray burst astronomy---
        the visible light from a burst during the burst itself (not the afterglow). People had searched
        for this for 20 years until he succeeded in 1999. Part of the problem was that they didn't
        know how bright it would be. It turned out to be very bright, 9th magnitude from half-way
        across the Universe. That makes it about a million times more luminous than the Milky Way
        galaxy (for a few seconds)---we'd be cooked if one happened nearby. Akerlof had to overcome
        obstacles getting funded (his proposals were rejected) and a bitter fight with his closest
        collaborator (who made off with the hardware and became his competitor), before making
        this epochal discovery with a four-inch telescope (one of a cluster of four) made of
        a telephoto lens for a 35 mm camera. Finally, he had a stroke of luck---the burst he detected
        was barely inside the field of view, so he almost missed it. That was in 1999, and, so
        far, no one has found another one.

        Then there is the XYZ Affair, a truly byzantine story of back-stabbing. Details are in the book.
        jefftibb <jefftibb@...> wrote: Richard,

        Are there any stories in the book you could tell us?

        I'd love to hear more.



        ---------------------------------
        Do You Yahoo!?
        Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • jefftibb
        Kool. A major astronomical discovery made in 1999 with a 4 telescope! There is hope for us frustrated astronomers yet! ... system of satellites ... didn t
        Message 3 of 5 , Jun 2, 2002
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          Kool.

          A major astronomical discovery made in 1999 with a 4" telescope!
          There is hope for us frustrated astronomers yet!



          --- In wannabeastronomers@y..., Richard Smith <smith10786@y...> wrote:
          >
          > One good story is how a bunch of physicists and engineers built a
          system of satellites
          > (Vela) to detect clandestine nuclear bomb tests in space. They
          didn't find any bombs
          > but beginning in 1967 discovered gamma-ray bursts, although they
          didn't realize what
          > they were observing until 1972. They made a great astronomical
          discovery without
          > realizing that they were doing astronomy.
          >
          > A great story is Carl Akerlof's discovery of the ``holy grail'' of
          gamma-ray burst astronomy---
          > the visible light from a burst during the burst itself (not the
          afterglow). People had searched
          > for this for 20 years until he succeeded in 1999. Part of the
          problem was that they didn't
          > know how bright it would be. It turned out to be very bright, 9th
          magnitude from half-way
          > across the Universe. That makes it about a million times more
          luminous than the Milky Way
          > galaxy (for a few seconds)---we'd be cooked if one happened
          nearby. Akerlof had to overcome
          > obstacles getting funded (his proposals were rejected) and a bitter
          fight with his closest
          > collaborator (who made off with the hardware and became his
          competitor), before making
          > this epochal discovery with a four-inch telescope (one of a cluster
          of four) made of
          > a telephoto lens for a 35 mm camera. Finally, he had a stroke of
          luck---the burst he detected
          > was barely inside the field of view, so he almost missed it. That
          was in 1999, and, so
          > far, no one has found another one.
          >
          > Then there is the XYZ Affair, a truly byzantine story of back-
          stabbing. Details are in the book.
          > jefftibb <jefftibb@y...> wrote: Richard,
          >
          > Are there any stories in the book you could tell us?
          >
          > I'd love to hear more.
          >
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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