Monday, 15 June 2009

Awe-Inspiring Image of Mysterious Gamma-Ray Burst


The photograph above comes from a short, but fascinating, article from Wired Science

Gamma-ray bursts are the most massive explosions in the universe since the Big Bang, and yet scientists still know relatively little about them. In particular, dark bursts, such as the one in the center of the image above, remain very mysterious.

This dark burst was first detected by NASA’s Swift satellite and then imaged by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The image shows previously unknown galaxies that contain strangely dense clouds of dust that dampen the burst’s visible light, but not the high-energy gamma rays or X-rays.

Gamm-ray bursts are so powerful that they release more energy than stars like the sun will emit during their entire life spans. No true bursts have been detected in the Milky Way, most are billions of light years away from Earth.

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