The NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, whose Mission Operations Center is situated at Penn State University, found a blast of high energy light coming from a galaxy about one billion light-years away on December 11, 2021. The event, that had been additionally detected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, raises questions about what was earlier thought to be settled science regarding gamma ray bursts (GRBs), the most intense explosions in the cosmos.
“It had been one thing we hadn’t seen before,” said Simone Dichiara, assistant research professor of astrophysics and astronomy at Penn State as well as part of the Swift group. We were aware it was not related to a supernova, the demise associated with a huge star, since it was way too close. ” It had been a totally different optical signal, one we associate with a kilonova explosion caused by colliding neutron stars. “
The Swift team was in a position to quickly identify the explosion ‘s area, in the constellation Boötes, allowing some other amenities to easily react with follow up observations. The observations of theirs have furnished the first look still at the very first stages of a kilonova, based on a NASA release. Their results were just lately published in the journal Nature.
Gamma-ray bursts are available in 2 varieties: short and long. Scientists previously understood long GRBs, and they last a few of seconds to a few minutes, as forming when a supermassive star explodes as being a supernova. Short GRBs, that last under 2 seconds, had been earlier believed to just happen when 2 small objects – like 2 neutron stars or maybe a neutron star along with a black hole – collide to develop a kilonova.
The revelation that the kilonova might cause much gamma ray burst rewrites the decades long paradigm of cosmic explosions: that long GRBs are absolutely the signature of the demise of significant stars, Dichiara described. The discovery means not every thing long GRBs are created by supernovae, a few are taken by the merger of neutron stars.
“This event was a game changer which demonstrated to us how our established knowledge of the universe was just a partial and incomplete view,” Eleonora Troja, an astronomer at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and principal author of the paper, said. “This result was difficult to digest initially and we spent weeks trying to discover alternate explanations, but ultimately this’s the only one which works well,” it stated. Even though we have been studying GRBs for hundreds of years, it is truly exciting to see the way the universe surprises us in the most unanticipated ways. “
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation as well as the European Research Council with the Consolidator grant BHianca.