Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Swift Mission Nabs Its First Distance Measurement to Star Explosion

06.04.2005


The NASA-led Swift mission has measured the distance to two gamma-ray bursts -- back to back, from opposite parts of the sky -- and both were from over nine billion light years away, unleashed billions of years before the Sun and Earth formed.



These achievements are the mission’s first direct distance, or redshift, measurements, its latest milestone since the Swift satellite’s launch in November 2004. The distances were attained with Swift’s Ultraviolet/OpticalTelescope (UVOT).

The Swift science team said that these types of distance measurements will become routine, allowing scientists to create a map to understand where, when and how these brilliant, fleeting bursts of light are created.


"Swift will detect more gamma-ray bursts than any satellite that has come before it, and now will be able to pin down distances to many of these bursts too," said Peter Roming, UVOT Lead Scientist at Penn State. "These two aren’t distance record-breakers, but they’re certainly from far out there. The second of the two bursts was bright enough to be seen from Earth with a good backyard telescope."

Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the Universe and are thought to signal the birth of a black hole --either through a massive star explosion or through a merger smaller black holes or neutron stars. Several appear each day from our vantage point. They are difficult to detect and study, however, because they occur randomly from any point in the sky and last only a few milliseconds to about a minute.

Swift, with three telescopes, is designed to detect bursts and turn autonomously within seconds to focus its telescopes on the burst afterglow, which can linger for hours to weeks. The UVOT is a joint product of Penn State and the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in England.

Swift detected bursts on March 18 and 19, as indicted in their names: GRB 050318 and GRB 050319. The UVOT team estimated that the redshifts are 1.44 and 3.24, respectively, which corresponds to distances of about 9.2 billion and 11.6 billion light years. (The second estimate reflects a more precise measurement made with the ground-based Nordic Optical Telescope.) Distance measurements are attained through analysis of the burst afterglow.

Swift has detected 24 bursts so far. GRB 050318 was the first burst in which the UVOT detected an afterglow. The lack of afterglow detection is interesting in its own right, Roming said, because it helps scientists understand why some bursts create certain kinds of afterglows, if any. For example, Swift’s X-ray Telescope has detected afterglows from several bursts. The UVOT detected afterglows in GRB 050318 and GRB 050319 in optical light, but not significantly in ultraviolet.

"Every burst is a little different, and when we add them all up we will begin to see the full picture," said Keith Mason, the U.K. UVOT Lead at University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

Mason said that UVOT distance measurements will become more precise in the upcoming months as new instruments aboard Swift are employed.

Swift is a medium-class explorer mission managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Swift is a NASA mission with participation of the Italian Space Agency and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council in the United Kingdom. It was built in collaboration with national laboratories, universities and international partners, including Penn State; Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; Sonoma State University in California; the University of Leicester in Leicester, England; the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Dorking, England; the Brera Observatory of the University of Milan in Italy; and the ASI Science Data Center in Rome, Italy.

More information about each of the Swift-detected gamma-ray bursts, updated every five minutes, is available on the web at: http://grb.sonoma.edu. Additional information about Swift is available on the Internet at http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Barbara K. Kennedy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu
http://grb.sonoma.edu
http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Nanomagnetism in X-ray Light
23.03.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme

nachricht When helium behaves like a black hole
22.03.2017 | University of Vermont

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>