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Went boom

  1. Mar 20, 2008 #1


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    On March 19th at 2:20AM** a cosmic gamma ray burst occurred. In the few seconds this object flared, it put out a million, million, million times more energy than the Sun will in its entire 10 billion year lifetime.

    This occurred very, very far away, but it was so bright that it was visible to the naked eye. The object's intrinsic brightness is almost inconceivable.

    Until March 19th, the farthest object visible to the naked eye was galaxy M33, at a modest 2.9 million light years away. This Gamma Ray burst occurred 7.5 billion light years away - and was visible to the naked eye.

    That's 7.5 billion light years.

    The universe is only 13 billion light years wide.

    This GRB was an object powerful enough to be naked-eye visible from halfway across all Creation.

    ** (Not quite the same day, but almost exactly 24 hours after the death of Arthur C. Clarke.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2008 #2
    My entire team is very excited. One of us (not me! :biggrin:) had to wake up very early this morning to analyze a radio observation. Unfortunately, I've been too swamped with other things to take a look at it (I analyze X-ray data primarily).
  4. Mar 20, 2008 #3
    Any pictures of when it happened? How long was it visible in the sky for? I would hate to think nobody was looking into the sky when it happened.
  5. Mar 20, 2008 #4
    Great frame animation: http://grb.fuw.edu.pl/pi/ot/grb080319b/normal.html

    The gamma-ray burst itself lasted about 60 seconds. The optical observations are actually part of the afterglow, which occurs after the burst.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
  6. Mar 21, 2008 #5
    Was there significant gamma ray radiation found on earth because of this. Obviously this didn't wipe out everything
  7. Mar 21, 2008 #6
    No, the burst occurred far from us (redshift z = 0.937), and Earth's atmosphere protects us from gamma-rays. High-energy observations are conducted by space-based telescopes.
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