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B Gamma Ray Burst Diameter

  1. Feb 17, 2017 #1
    Is it true gamma ray burst diameter can be as big as the solar system and the sky would become bright with its light even if it is 4000 light years away? Saw this at History Channel.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2017 #2
    That makes no sense at all unless the source of the burst is inside the solar system ...

    If a supernova or something similar happened close to the solar system we would see one very bright point of light.
    Most of the stars near the solar system are dull unexciting things though.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  4. Feb 17, 2017 #3
    The series "How the Universe Works Series: Extinction" featuring Michio Kiku and Lawrence Klass, etc. mentioned the source of the gamma ray burst may be light years away from super super massive suns and black holes and the diameter of the burst is one solar system across.
  5. Feb 17, 2017 #4
    I don't like Kaku's 'Gee wow; maybe' presentations, but as popular science presenters go Krauss is alright,
    (As long as he avoids the pushy atheism stuff, pointless really)

    A gamma ray burst is most likely to be a quasar, nowhere near us and a long time ago.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  6. Feb 17, 2017 #5
    I listen again to the series and the following is the exact presentation (which part is wrong?):

    Neil Gehrels, experimental physicist: "gamma rays are fascination.. we can study them throughout the universe because they are so bright.. but if you move them in really close to the earth... say within 6000 light years of the earth.. it becomes extremely destructive"

    Presenter at background: "the beam is so huge that if a gamma ray burst occurs say a hundred light years from us.. by the time it reaches the earth.. the beam will be wide enough to engulf our entire solar system."

    True? gamma ray burst beam is wide enough to engulf our entire solar system??
  7. Feb 17, 2017 #6
    If somebody sets a firework one or two miles or kilometers away from where you live, does this engulf you?
  8. Feb 17, 2017 #7
    Here's the continuation of the transcript from another physicist in the series.. he said:

    "Basically if you are standing on the earth.. and you look up you see a flash of light.. before you could even say "what's that".. you'd be gone.. the amount of energy in the beam that travels across space.. is so intense it would basically light the earth on fire from that distance.. it would strip off the earth atmosphere.. it would boil the ocean.. it would melt the rock.. it would be apocalyptic beyond apocalyptic.. "
  9. Feb 17, 2017 #8
    If that is so he is being melodramatic.
    The only way something like that could happen is a supernova very near the solar system.
    Unless there are very large or unstable stars close to us that we somehow didn't notice, that is not going to happen.
  10. Feb 17, 2017 #9
    But the energy from the gamma ray burst is even more powerful than supernova near our solar system and it is billions of light years away that can survive redshift. The one who mentioned it melting the rock and boiling the ocean is Phil Plait.


    "During the 1990s, Plait worked with the COBE satellite and later was part of the Hubble Space Telescope team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, working largely on the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. In 1995, he published observations of a ring of circumstellar material around a supernova (SN 1987A), which led to further study of explosion mechanisms in core-collapse supernovae.[6][7] Plait's work with Grady, et al. resulted in the presentation of high-resolution images of isolated stellar objects (including AB Aurigae[8] and HD 163296[9]) from the Hubble Space Telescope, among the first of those recorded. These results have been used in further studies into the properties and structure of dim, young, moderate-size stars, called Herbig Ae/Be stars,[10] which also confirmed results observed by Grady, et al.[11]"

    Now let others get in and verify how true Phil Plait was describing as well as Neil Gehrels.
  11. Feb 18, 2017 #10


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    It is safe to say no supernova or GRB candidates are believed to reside within a distance [thousands of light years] that poses a known threat to life on earth.
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