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NASA’s Fermi Telescope Sees Most Extreme Gamma-Ray Blast Yet

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NASA/FERMI: The first gamma-ray burst to be seen in high-resolution from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is one for the record books. The blast had the greatest total energy, the fastest motions and the highest-energy initial emissions ever seen. (Center Image)

Gamma-ray emission from energies between 3,000
to more than 5 billion times that of visible light.

“We were waiting for this one,” said Peter Michelson, the principal investigator on Fermi’s Large Area Telescope at Stanford University. “Burst emissions at these energies are still poorly understood, and Fermi is giving us the tools to understand them.”

Gamma-ray bursts are the universe’s most luminous explosions. Astronomers believe most occur when exotic massive stars run out of nuclear fuel. As a star’s core collapses into a black hole, jets of material — powered by processes not yet fully understood — blast outward at nearly the speed of light. The jets bore all the way through the collapsing star and continue into space, where they interact with gas previously shed by the star and generate bright afterglows that fade with time.

A brief movie of event is available here.

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Written by mattliving

February 20, 2009 at 10:58 am

Posted in Knowledge, Science, Space

Tagged with , ,

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