October 24, 2021

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Astronomers catch fizzled-out gamma-ray burst from supernova

4 min read

A fizzled example of a gamma-ray burst, the most powerful kind of explosion known in the universe, suggests these outbursts may not always work the way that scientists thought, and that versions of these flares can be surprisingly brief, researchers say.

A typical gamma-ray burst unleashes more energy in a few milliseconds to minutes than the sun is expected to emit during its entire 10-billion-year lifetime. Astronomers classify gamma-ray bursts as long or short based on whether the outbursts lasts for more or less than two seconds. Previous research suggested that short gamma-ray bursts result from the mergers of two neutron stars, which are the extraordinarily dense stellar corpses formed by the collapse of massive stars. In contrast, astronomers thought that long gamma-ray bursts are linked to a catastrophic explosion known as a supernova, one resulting from the implosion of a giant star.

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