These infrared images of GRB 050724 and its host galaxy were taken with the Carnegie Observatories’ Magellan telescopes. The red color of the elliptical host galaxy shows that no new stars have been forming for several billion years, implicating old neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole, as the source of short gamma-ray bursts (Image courtesy Edo Berger / Carnegie Observatories)
Cosmic gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe, have the extreme brilliance of a billion billion Suns and occur several times a day. But they are not all created equal. For several decades astronomers have known that two types exist--long ones that last for tens or hundreds of seconds, and short bursts, which last a few milliseconds to a second. Intense research over the last decade has shown that long bursts are the death throes of massive stars in distant, young, and vigorously star forming galaxies. The origin of the short gamma-ray bursts, however, has been shrouded in mystery until now. Edo Berger, a Hubble post-doctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories, is lead author of the first study that accurately pinpoints a short gamma-ray burst to an old dead galaxy, implicating a population of old neutron stars as the sources of these explosions. The study appears in the December 15, 2005, issue of Nature.
"We had no idea if they explode in nearby galaxies, or the farthest reaches of the universe, or even what kind of object was producing them," stated Berger. "Now, after eluding us for years, we have finally found out what objects are giving rise to these explosions." he added.
Because short gamma-ray bursts are fainter than the long bursts, they have been very difficult to localize until recently, with the advent of NASA’s Swift satellite and rapid follow-up by telescopes on the ground. Swift detects and observes gamma-ray bursts in multiple wavelengths and alerts astronomers who quickly point ground-based telescopes to catch the fading afterglow--the dying ember that glows for hours or days after the burst of gamma-rays.
New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy