Danish astrophysicists have for the first time observed the visible light from a so-called short gamma-ray burst. Observations show that these short, intense bursts of gamma-ray emission most likely originate from the violent collision of two merging neutron stars. The results are being published in Nature on October 6th.
Two neutron stars about to collide
Stars do not always meet gently. Two neutron stars rarely meet, but when they do, they smash into each other and the expected result is a short, gigantic explosion.
A research team lead by Prof. Jens Hjorth at the new Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen has observed a so-called short gamma-ray burst with the Danish 1.5 metre telescope at ESO, La Silla in Chile. For the first time since the mysterious gamma-ray bursts were discovered more than 30 years ago, visible light was detected from a short burst. The energetic gamma radiation lasts less than 2 seconds and as such they are extremely difficult to catch. The discovery of visible light from a short gamma-ray burst has now paved the way for unravelling the secrets of these enigmatic cosmic explosions.
Kristian Pedersen | alfa
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