Unusually Powerful Explosion in Space Puzzles Astronomers

Unusually Powerful Explosion in Space Puzzles Astronomers

Most of us won’t probably be around anymore when and if astronomers discover most of what’s to learn about the Universe. But that mystery and craving for knowledge precisely represent the beauty of science.

Here’s another fact that many people don’t like to deal with: the Universe is weird and often behaves in weird ways. Mashable now reveals that the Swift Observatory of NASA has detected a gamma-ray burst that was exceptionally powerful and occurred in a galaxy located 2 billion light-years away from us. So what could have caused such an explosion? The answer is, surprisingly, quite simple. 

A star dozens of times larger than the Sun

A star that was 30 to 40 times larger than the Sun likely led to the gamma-ray burst after turning into a supernova. Scientists have to deal with the most powerful type of gamma-ray burst. 

Yvette Cendes, who is an astronomer and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, made a pretty interesting comparison to make us understand the cosmic event a lot better, as Mashable quotes:

It’s the equivalent of getting front row seats at a fireworks show.

Cendes also wrote a few days ago via Twitter: 

A gamma-ray burst (GRB) happens when a very supermassive star collapses at the end of its life, in a giant supernova explosion. And it looks like one of the closest ones EVER detected happened this weekend! 👀

Gamma-ray bursts are caused by supernovae, meaning stars that burn up their fuel and explode into huge amounts of energy. After the supernova, there are two possibilities: what’s left of the star becomes a neutron star or a black hole, depending on its original size. 

Despite measuring only 20 kilometers in diameter, a neutron star has such strong gravity that anything getting too close to it would be instantly flattened on the surface.

Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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