A flash of insight

Near the end of April, a record setting Gamma Ray Burst was observed in the constellation Leo. Not only did scientists observe the highest energy gamma ray photons ever measured from such an event, about 35 billion times more energetic than photons of visible light, but the duration of the event also set records. The hours-long ‘burst’ enabled other telescopes to observe the region of the sky containing the source object. The redshift distance was remarkably small for GRBs, too. This GRB was exceptionally energetic, remarkably long-lived, and closer to us than 95% of other GRBs seen. The image below is from NASA’s Swift X-ray telescope.

Image

The followup observations are expected to find a supernova remnant by the middle of May. The data collected may reveal new information about the physical processes involved in creating the most luminous events in the Universe.

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