Astronomers around the world are caught off guard by the unusually bright and long-lasting pulse of high-energy radio waves that hit Earth on Sunday, Oct. 9. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) — the most powerful class of explosions. in the universe, that order is known among the most luminous events.
Early Sunday morning, a wave of X-rays and gamma rays passed through the solar system, exciting the detectors of NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, and the Wind spacecraft, as well as others. Telescopes around the world have returned to the site to repair objects and continue to make new observations.
Called GRB 221009A, the explosion provided an unexpected start to the exciting Fermi X Symposium, a collection of gamma-ray astronomers currently gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It’s safe to say this meeting kicked off with a bang with everyone talking about it,” said Judy Racusin, a Fermi deputy project physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who attended the conference.
The signal, originating in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, took 1.9 billion years to reach Earth. Astronomers believe the cry expresses the birth of a new black hole, formed in the heart of a massive star collapsing under its own weight. In these conditions, the emerging black hole is a powerful burst of particles traveling through at nearly the speed of light. the burst will pierce the star, emitting X-rays and gamma rays as they flow into space.
They also break a long-awaited installation to preserve the connection between two experiments on the International Space Station—NASA’s NICER X-ray telescope and the Japanese Monitor All-sky X-ray Imaging (MAXI) detector. Activating in April a link to the Orbiting Arch-Energy Monitor Alert Network (OHMAN) was established. MICER allows for the rapid detection of MAXI eruptions, actions that are required before the intervention of scientists on the ground.
“OHMAN provided a robotic arm that could track NICER within three hours, when the source first became visible to the telescope,” said Zaven Arzoumanian, NICER lead scientist at Goddard. “Future opportunities result in response times of a few minutes.”
The light from this ancient explosion brings with it new insights into the collapse of stars, the birth of black holes, the behavior and interaction of matter near the speed of light, conditions in distant galaxies – and much more. Another GRB this bright may not appear for decades.
According to a preliminary analysis, Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) detected the rupture for more than 10 hours. One reason for the burst’s brightness and length is that for a GRB, it lies relatively close to us.
“This burst is much closer than typical GRBs, which is exciting because it allows us to detect many details that would otherwise be too faint to see,” said Roberta Pillera, a member of the Fermi LAT Collaboration, who led the initial communications on the bursts and PhD. student at the Polytechnic University of Bari, Italy. “But even among the most active and luminous it always breaks out regardless of distance, making it doubly exciting.”
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Citation: NASA Swift and Fermi missions detect exceptional cosmic explosion (2022, October 13) Retrieved October 14, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-nasa-swift-fermi-missions-exceptional.html
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