Explosions in outer space

Gamma-ray bursts occur daily and are million times brighter than the galaxy

Published: Tuesday 30 September 1997

the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory based at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( nasa ), usa, has detected that gamma-ray bursts occur almost every day. The flashes appear from random directions and last for a few seconds. There are two theories on gamma-ray bursts. One theory suggests that the bursts originate from some unknown sources within the milky way galaxy, whereas others proposes that the bursts originate in distant galaxies. If the latter theory is considered then the bursts are amongst the most violent events and the most brilliant bursts in the Universe.

In January, an astronomy satellite called 'Beppo sax' observed a gamma-ray burst. The findings were studied by scientists in detail just 16 hours later and were compared with the previous record of about 18 days. After a month, a gamma-ray burst was picked up simultaneously in the data from the Beppo sax gamma-ray burst monitor and wide field cameras. Scientists were able to reschedule the satellite observations and point the Beppo sax narrow field x -ray telescopes at the gamma-ray bursts source in just eight hours. This revealed an unseen x- ray source. Although recent findings have been able to devise that the bursts come from great distances, what causes the bursts is still not known.

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