A recent study argues that the photons which come from the elusive gamma-ray bursts come from the jets shoot by stars which have reached the supernova state.
First, we have to explain the concept of gamma-ray bursts (also known as GRB). They were discovered back in the 1960s when the US military attempted to observe the effect of nuclear weapons in space. The satellites used in the process were able to detect signals, but they were linked to groups of gamma-ray photons which came from distant galaxies.
It is believed that high-power supernova explosions generate the bursts. It seems that only a limited number of dying stars can release gamma-ray bursts. The phenomenon occurs when the stellar core will transform directly into a black hole, omitting the neutron star stage. At this point, researchers are puzzled by how this radiation can reach the speed of light. The authors of the study believe that they may provide a possible answer.
Scientists think they’ve found the source of the photons in gamma-ray bursts
The astrophysicists involved in this recent study used an advanced simulator which allowed them to observe the radiation and motion emitted by supernovas. Three supercomputers were employed for the task: Cray XC30 and XC50 located at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Hokusai BigWaterfall system at Riken.
The team discovered that the gamma-ray photons are generated by the photosphere region of a jet which is ejected by the supernova. The jets will expand as they travel through space and the plume of the jet will lose density. When this happens, the photons in gamma-ray bursts will escape triggering chain reactions as particles from the regions which have a higher density will start to move towards those who are less dense, increasing the number of spaces through which the gamma-ray photons can escape.
It appears that the researchers have solved the mystery of the origins of the photons in gamma-ray bursts, but there are few questions which continue to remain. The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal.