Dazzling rays

Tuesday 15 June 1999

On January 23, 1999, an Italian/ Dutch satellite called BeppoSAX spotted an unusually intense burst of gamma rays. The dazzling burst is the most violent explosion of gamma rays ever witnessed in the universe, and its source was estimated to be about 10 billion light years away. The afterglow suggested the rays came from a jet of material rushing towards the Earth at close to the speed of light. Scientists believe this will improve our understanding of the nature of gamma-ray bursts ( Nature , Vol 398, No 6726).

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