The Most Intense Cosmic Explosion Ever Seen

If this happened in our galaxy …

Three NASA space observatories, Hubble, Swift and Chandra, have teamed up to study one of the most intense cosmic explosions in the history of astronomy. A week after the blast, a high-energy radiation continues to appear and disappear in the constellation Draco, where on March 28 was discovered by the Swift telescope. The blast, whose source is located in the center of a galaxy at 3,800 million light years away, has been identified as gamma-ray burst (GRB) 110328A.

Normally the gamma ray emissions indicate the destruction of a massive star, but then flashes usually last a few hours. So what happened this time? Although research is ongoing, astronomers suspect that this unusual explosion probably came when a star wandered too close to the central black hole in the galaxy. The intense tidal forces broke the star and the gas went rushing into the hole. According to this model, the rotating black hole formed jet emanating along its axis of rotation. A powerful burst of X rays and gamma rays is seen if the jet pointed in our direction.

“We know from objects in our galaxy that can produce repeated bursts, but are billions of times less powerful than the explosions we are seeing now. This is really extraordinary,” said Andrew Fruchter of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.”The fact that the explosion occurred in the center of a galaxy tells us that the most likely to be associated with a massive black hole. This resolves a key issue on the mysterious incident,” said Neil Gehrels, Swift principal scientist the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

Most galaxies, including ours, contains the center of a black hole millions of times the mass of the Sun, although the larger galaxies may be a thousand times larger. The destroyed star probably succumbed to a less massive black hole than the Milky Way, which has a mass four million times that of the Sun

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One Response to “The Most Intense Cosmic Explosion Ever Seen”
  1. momofplenty Says...

    On June 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Very cool…

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