Scientists probe the mystery of hours-long celestial explosions

Posted by ap507 at Sep 17, 2014 12:30 PM |
Research sheds light on 'ultra-long Gamma Ray bursts'

Scientists from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have shed light on the origin of so-called “ultra-long Gamma Ray bursts” (GRBs), the most powerful explosions in the universe, in results to be presented at a meeting in Russia next week.

Gamma-ray bursts are normally short-lived, lasting from a few seconds up to tens of minutes. However, a small number of them have been found to continue for much longer. GRB 130925A, which was the starting point of the team's work, lasted for over 5 hours.

Gamma Ray Bursts arise when a massive star collapses to a black hole. The US/UK/Italian satellite “Swift”, which detected its 900th Gamma Ray Burst last week, was designed to study these phenomena.

This result was found using a combination of the Swift satellite, which celebrates 10 years in orbit this November, and the US/Russian mission Konus-Wind, which has its 20th birthday celebratory conference in St Petersburg next week.