Bang, but not as big

 
Published: Wednesday 30 September 1998

Twelve billion light-years away, it was the biggest cosmic explosion since the Big Bang, the initial explosion that started it all, say astronomers. Astronomers S George Djorgovski and Srinivas R Kulkarni of the California Institute of Technology in California, USA, reported that the gammaray burst detected in December 14, 1997, by the Italian-Dutch Beppo-SAX satellite and NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory satellite, released several hundred times more energy than an exploding star. The burst, dubbed GRB 971214, lasted less than a minute but for a second was as luminous as the rest of the universe. The scientists do not yet know what causes these gammaray bursts, but this latest example is making them revise existing theoretical models.

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