Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/25/2013 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Massive gamma ray burst is the brightest ever recorded.

Gamma ray bursts are very bright and very scary, and astronomers recently observed one of the brightest and closest gamma ray bursts ever last April, according to new research.

A gamma ray burst may have killed much of the life on Earth 450 million years ago. Such events are frightening to those who know about them, fortunately the risk is low.

A gamma ray burst may have killed much of the life on Earth 450 million years ago. Such events are frightening to those who know about them, fortunately the risk is low.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/25/2013 (9 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Gamma Ray Burst, stars, formation, black holes, brightest, brightest gamma ray burst ever, danger, scary


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On April 27, light which took about 3.6 billion years to reach Earth finally arrived and was detected by orbiting space telescopes. The light was part of a gamma ray burst and this one is thought to be the brightest yet observed.

Gamma ray bursts are the most energetic events in the universe. They are also the brightest, although we do not see them on Earth because the atmosphere absorbs the rays. Yet from space, satellites can clearly see them as bright flashes that last for a fraction of a second to a few minutes.

They are also dangerous. It is theorized that if a gamma ray burst occurred close to Earth, it could bathe the planet in lethal radiation that could deplete our ozone layer and kill much of the life on the surface. Even scarier, gamma ray bursts cannot be predicted, so the first warning we would get, which would be about a flash of brilliant blue light lasting several seconds, would be too late.

The bursts are so energetic, they emit in seconds what the Sun would output in 10 billion years.

Fortunately, gamma ray bursts need special conditions for their creation. Specifically they are formed in the massive supernova explosions of rapidly rotating stars, which results in the formation of black holes, some of the universe's most enigmatic objects.

There does appear to be a couple stars near Earth which could cause such a calamity. Luckily for us, the most powerful bursts of gamma rays are along the poles of such stars and black holes, and the odds of Earth being in the path of such a polar jet are slim.

The burst observed on April 27, was the result of a massive star in another galaxy going supernova, which means the core of the star collapsed inwards on itself and its outer layers exploded into space. Astronomers observed the supernova in real-time as the light arrived from it.

Part of the reason why the explosion was so bright was because the burst occurred just a quarter of the way to the edge of the universe. Most of the bursts we observe are much more distant, virtually at the edge of the universe.

Since it was so close, it appeared much brighter than usual. That also allowed astronomers to make a more detailed observation of the event. Curiously, they found the data does not match existing models for gamma ray bursts. In other words, what they should have observed was different from what they actually saw. The differences were fairly technical, for example astronomers observed relativistic shock waves, meaning waves traveling at virtually the speed of light. They detected more photons and more gamma rays than the models predicted they should have seen.

It is possible that the proximity of the burst is partly responsible for the mismatch between the observations and model. It is also possible that the model is inaccurate in some way. Future data may help to refine the models so they work correctly. The best thing about science is that it is self-correcting.

For now, scientists continue to watch for more gamma ray bursts. The bursts occur on average about one per day, and nearly all are at the edge of the universe. In our own galaxy, one probably occurs once about every 100,000 to 1 million years. Few, if any, have ever been pointed at Earth, although it is theorized that mysterious mass extinctions in prehistoric times may have been caused by one or more such bursts. This remains highly speculative.

The April 27 burst remains an enigma for the astronomers researching it. It will take more such bursts, closer in space, to corroborate the data from the event. When that happens is anyone's guess, but hopefully it happens far enough away the rest of us don't have to worry about it.

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Technology

What are these mysterious objects found underneath Stonehenge? Watch

Image of Using underground radar and 3D imaging technology, a new study has revealed that there are numerous monuments underneath the famous Stonehenge.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

England's iconic and mysterious Stonehenge has just revealed a new mystery, as a first-of-its-kind study suggests that 15 previously undiscovered or poorly understood monuments lie hidden under the ancient monument and the surrounding countryside. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Forget the zombie apocalypse, the ROBOT APOCALYPSE is near! Watch

Image of In the future, robots will be connected through a kind of internet which will allow connected robots to gather and use information in everyday tasks.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A large scale computational system that learns from publicly available Internet resources-called Robo Brain-is currently downloading a processing about 1 billion images, 120,000 YouTube videos, and 100 million how-to documents and appliance manuals. This ... continue reading


You'll never believe what Amazon picked up for nearly $1 billion Watch

Image of Tech giant Amazon purchased the live-streaming gaming network Twitch for $970 million, beating out several rival competitors including Google.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Defeating tech rivals Google and Yahoo, Amazon purchased the live-streaming gaming network Twitch for $970 million in a move announced late on August 25 which is the largest deal in Amazon's 20-year history. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The firm raised $20 ... continue reading


China bucks American tech giant Microsoft over fears of spying Watch

Image of China is creating its own operating system after blacklisting Windows 8 from government computers over fears that the American operating system could provide avenues for intelligence agencies.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency announced that China is developing their own operating system for desktop computers and mobile devices, citing U.S. surveillance as one of the key factors. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - China intends the new ... continue reading


Robots with an internet of their own! This is the way of the future Watch

Image of In the future, robots will be connected through a kind of internet which will allow connected robots to gather and use information in everyday tasks.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A large scale computational system that learns from publicly available Internet resources-called Robo Brain-is currently downloading a processing about 1 billion images, 120,000 YouTube videos, and 100 million how-to documents and appliance manuals. This ... continue reading


A confident Ballmer leaves Microsoft 'completely' to run the Clippers Watch

Image of Steve Ballmer has left all positions of authority at Microsoft, leaving behind the tech giant to run the Los Angeles Clippers, for which Ballmer paid a record $2 billion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Eight months after he ended his role as Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer resigned from Microsoft's board, a move that ends more than three decades of direct involvement in the world's largest software maker. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 58-year-old, who ... continue reading


Why did NASA turn the cameras off? Live feed from Space Station shows UFO, NASA cuts the feed Watch

Image of Is this evidence of a UFO? Or perhaps just venting gasses or debris from the ISS?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fans of the International Space Station got an eyeful recently when an alleged UFO appeared on NASA's live feed from the station. Curiously, the feed was interrupted as soon as the object appeared fueling rumors that NASA is engaged in a cover-up. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Have you been hacked? New report says millions of personal information has been stolen Watch

Image of Russian hackers recently gathered customer individuals from more than 420,000 websites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Russian hackers gathered information from over 420,000 websites, both smaller sites and "household name" sites, in an attempt to gather passwords to send out spam. LOS ANGLES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hold Security, a Milwaukee-based firm, discovered the theft but ... continue reading


ROSETTA: After 10 long years - 'We're in orbit!' Watch

Image of Exciting new images, taken from just 80 miles away shows boulders, craters and steep cliffs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All things come to those who wait. "After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the sun five times, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here,'" Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General, said in a ... continue reading


Xiaomi overtakes Samsung as leading Smartphone maker Watch

Image of Xiaomi has evolved from a niche player in China to a major force in its home market.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How do you pronounce Xiaomi? Think of "show me," and then pronounce the first syllable as if it was in "shower." While Xiaomi in English translates as "little rice," there's nothing little about this Chinese Smartphone manufacturer - Xiaomi has knocked South ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 1:1-9
1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
2 Day after day I shall bless you, I shall praise ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 24:42-51
42 'So stay awake, because you do not know the day ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 28th, 2014 Image

St. Augustine of Hippo
August 28: St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter