Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, Gamma Ray Bursts, General Astronomy, Supernovae > Dying Supergiant Stars Implicated In Hours-long Gamma-Ray Bursts

Dying Supergiant Stars Implicated In Hours-long Gamma-Ray Bursts


GRB 111209A exploded on Dec. 9, 2011. Credit: NASA/Swift/B. Gendre (ASDC/INAF-OAR/ARTEMIS)

GRB 111209A exploded on Dec. 9, 2011. Credit: NASA/Swift/B. Gendre (ASDC/INAF-OAR/ARTEMIS)

Three unusually long-lasting stellar explosions discovered by NASA’s Swift satellite represent a previously unrecognized class of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Two international teams of astronomers studying these events conclude that they likely arose from the catastrophic death of supergiant stars hundreds of times larger than the sun.

GRBs are the most luminous and mysterious explosions in the universe. The blasts emit surges of gamma rays — the most powerful form of light — as well as X-rays, and they produce afterglows that can be observed at optical and radio energies. Swift, Fermi and other spacecraft detect an average of about one GRB each day.

“We have seen thousands of gamma-ray bursts over the past four decades, but only now are we seeing a clear picture of just how extreme these extraordinary events can be,” said Bruce Gendre, a researcher now associated with the French National Center for Scientific Research who led this study while at the Italian Space Agency’s Science Data Center in Frascati, Italy.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/supergiant-stars.html

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