It's not a secret for any of us that in spacedifferent events are constantly happening. Recently, scientists discovered the brightest light in the Universe, which appeared as a result of two large cosmic explosions, called gamma-ray bursts. Recall that gamma-ray bursts are short flashes of the most energetic form of light in the universe. To capture the stream of ultra-high energy, astronomers had to act quickly. They managed to direct the telescopes toward the explosion just 50 seconds after NASA satellites discovered it. However, exactly how gamma-ray bursts produce ultra-high energy light remains a mystery. Astronomers hope that the results of a new study published in the journal Nature will help find answers to these complex questions.
Gamma-ray bursts - another mystery of the universe
Two powerful blasts in galaxies for billionslight years from Earth recently caused the brightest flash of light in the Universe. The telescopes recorded their first surge in July 2018. A second burst was discovered in January, and the burst light contained about 100 billion times more energy than the light that a person can see. Gamma-ray bursts appear without warning and last only a few seconds, so astronomers had to act quickly. Just 50 seconds after the satellites noticed the January explosion, telescopes on Earth turned to catch a stream of thousands of light particles. What the specialists managed to register was the photons of light with the highest energy ever detected during a gamma-ray burst. The results were studied by more than 300 scientists around the world, according to researchers in a press release.
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Gamma-ray bursts occur almost every day withoutwarnings, and only last a few seconds. Nevertheless, high energy explosions remain a mystery to scientists. Astronomers believe that they come from colliding neutron stars or from supernovae - events in which stars run out of fuel, they succumb to their own gravity and collapse into black holes. Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the Universe, and they usually release more energy in just a few seconds than our Sun in its entire life. They can shine through almost the entire visible Universe. It is also interesting that after brief intense eruptions of gamma rays, hours or days of afterglow follow. So, telescopes observed low-energy rays that emanate from the initial explosion and afterglow. Much of what researchers learned about gamma-ray bursts over the past couple of decades was obtained by observing their afterglow at lower energies. However, in the past, scientists could not catch the light of superhigh energies.
Get on in 50 seconds
January 14, two NASA satellites discovered explosions ina galaxy over 4 billion light-years away. For 22 seconds, these space telescopes - the telescope of the observatory. Neil Gerel and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope - transmitted the coordinates of the burst to astronomers throughout the Earth. Within 27 seconds after receiving the coordinates, astronomers in the Canary Islands turned two Cherenkov telescopes (MAGIC) at the specified coordinates. Over the next 20 minutes, photons literally filled the telescopes, leading to new discoveries about some of the most elusive properties of gamma-ray bursts.
Photons detected by gamma-ray burstsix months earlier, in July 2018, were not as energetic and numerous as the photons from the January explosion. However, thanks to previous observations, the researchers concluded that a stream of high-energy light appeared 10 hours after the initial explosion, and the afterglow lasted another two hours. In a new work, astronomers suggested that electrons could scatter photons, increasing their energy. Scientists have long suspected that scattering of photons was one of the ways in which gamma-ray bursts generated so much microwave light in the afterglow phase, but now, experts’s assumptions are confirmed by observations. In the future, scientists expect more information about gamma-ray bursts.