Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A gamma-ray burst bonanza


ESA’s Integral satellite is detecting gamma-ray bursts at a rate of nearly one per day, establishing itself as a key player in the hunt for these enigmatic explosions.

Launched in October 2002, Integral has just captured four bursts in the last four months right in the middle of its field of view. Such precision observations are providing scientists with a remarkable view of gamma-ray bursts, which occur randomly, fade within seconds, and yet shine with the intensity of millions upon millions of Suns.

"We made Integral to study supernovae, black holes, and neutron stars, yet already we see how this versatile satellite can contribute greatly to the field of gamma-ray bursts," says Chris Winkler, Integral Project Scientist.

Gamma-ray bursts are distant explosions of unknown origin. Scientists say that these bursts signal the birth of a brand new black hole, either through the death of a massive star or through the merger of two neutron stars or black holes. The bursts fade within seconds, never to appear in the same place twice, so scientists have been hard-pressed to study the bursts in detail.

Integral, with its four main instruments, helps locate bursts for follow-up study in two primary ways. The anti-coincidence system of one of its instruments (which usually helps eliminate background noise) can detect a gamma-ray burst almost anywhere in the sky and does so about every day.

Integral shares this information with other gamma-ray detectors that comprise the Interplanetary Network. Together, these simple detectors, which are located on spacecraft across the Solar System, pinpoint the location of a burst through triangulation. The process takes a little time, but within a few days, scientists have enough information to find the gamma-ray burst afterglow and study it.

About once a month, however, a gamma-ray burst goes off within Integral’s field of view. Integral has detected four bursts this way dead on. The most recent burst (GRB 030227) triggered very many follow-up observations. Integral can provide a unique perspective for those gamma-ray bursts caught directly in its field of view because it can view the bursts rapidly with four instruments. These instruments are an imager, a spectrometer, an X-ray monitor, and an optical camera. All of them observe the same region of the sky simultaneously.

The Integral team expects the satellite’s capability for detecting, locating, and relaying information about gamma-ray bursts will improve markedly in the coming months.

Integral team members discuss their gamma-ray burst findings so far in a press conference on 24 March 2003 at a meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society at Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.

Monica Talevi | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>