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NASA's Swift Observatory  (Source: NASA)
Gamma burst reported as most powerful on record.

NASA scientists have identified a violent cosmic eruption that temporarily blinded a NASA satellite in June.  An X-ray telescope that tracks gamma rays on board the NASA Swift satellite captured a record-breaking burst of rays that had left scientists mystified about its massive brightness and point of origin.  

At it's peak the gamma-ray explosion – documented as the most powerful emission on record -- produced between 143,000 and 145,000 X-ray protons per second, which is about 10 to 15 times brighter than previous bursts captured by the telescope.   

After weeks of analysis, researchers are now indicating that the astounding blast was produced by a massive star collapsing into a black hole.  

According to and, although the Swift satellite was designed specifically to study gamma-ray bursts, the instrument was not designed to handle an X-ray blast this bright.

"The intensity of these X-rays was unexpected and unprecedented," said Neil Gehrels from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He said the burst, named GRB 100621A, is the brightest X-ray source that Swift has detected since the observatory began X-ray observation in early 2005. "Just when we were beginning to think that we had seen everything that gamma-ray bursts could throw at us, this burst came along to challenge our assumptions about how powerful their X-ray emissions can be.”

The event was so powerful, it disrupted the telescope's data-analysis capabilities.

"The burst was so bright when it first erupted that our data-analysis software shut down," said Phil Evans from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. "So many photons were bombarding the detector each second that it just couldn't count them quickly enough. It was like trying to use a rain gauge and a bucket to measure the flow rate of a tsunami."

The X-rays had been traveling for over 5 billion years before being detected by the Swift satellite.

The burst lasted for about one minute and was about 200 times brighter than the Crab Nebula, an X-ray radiation benchmark for astronomers. 

The X-ray blast is the brightest ever detected from outside of the Milky Way galaxy. 

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RE: Didn't we just...
By Goty on 7/19/2010 11:24:33 AM , Rating: 2
The speed of the photons themselves, when free, is still the speed of light. It is just the interactions taking place in the experiment that make it appear to travel more slowly. Photons in these experiments are no more traveling slower than the speed of light than the photons in superluminal jets are traveling faster than the speed of light. It's all just illusion.

RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/19/10, Rating: 0
RE: Didn't we just...
By Goty on 7/19/2010 12:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
That's easy. We know we don't sit inside a large bubble because the things we observe in our own galaxy appear no different from the same processes that occur in other galaxies. We don't occupy a special place in the universe (physically, anyway), everything looks the same everywhere on a large enough scale.

RE: Didn't we just...
By nafhan on 7/19/2010 3:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
Coming up with unnecessarily complicated theories to explain things is not productive. With your beach ball example, it doesn't really matter that someone might be trying to trick you into seeing a beach ball. You go with the assumption that there's a beach ball on the island until you have a reason not to assume that. Generally, that's how science works. Start with the simple and try to understand it better until you find a problem.
Our galaxy could be in a giant bubble, our galaxy could be a giant simulation running in a giant computer, our galaxy could even be a mental construct in the mind of an all knowing being. However, that doesn't really matter. What we have observed doesn't support those things.

RE: Didn't we just...
By SPOOFE on 7/19/2010 5:03:40 PM , Rating: 2
Who's to say that our galaxy is inside a giant bubble that causes matter to interact differently?

That's your "paper-thin assumption"? The assumption that physical interactions are consistent across the universe? You're just making up fantastical crap to justify doubts. Explain why we should believe the laws of physics are different locally compared to a billion light-years away.

It isn't hard to grasp the concept of things being different outside of the scope of our physical limitations.

A concept is one thing; using that baseless concept, with no observational reason to believe it's an accurate concept, to cast doubt on a subject with more internally consistent observations than you have hair follicles. If physics were different here as opposed to there, then those differences would be apparent... or they'd be so negligible as to be irrelevent. Either way, your statements are nonsense.

You can stand on an island and look through a pair of binoculars and see another island. You have no way of reaching this island. On the island you spot a beach ball. In reality, this is only a picture of a beach ball propped up in the sand.

Yeah, I get it. It's obvious. You have no idea what you're talking about.

If you see a "picture" - of anything - that picture obviously had to come from somewhere. Outside of a proposed mechanism, consistent with all other observations, for that picture to be generated, created, or falsified, the only logical conclusion is that the picture represents a fairly accurate view of circumstances.

You have doubts with no mechanism, no explanation for those doubts. You're stupid. You're ignorant. I'm almost sorry to be so blunt, but them's the facts. If you don't like it, you can stop being stupid.

RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/19/2010 7:06:29 PM , Rating: 1
If you see a "picture" - of anything - that picture obviously had to come from somewhere. Outside of a proposed mechanism, consistent with all other observations, for that picture to be generated, created, or falsified, the only logical conclusion is that the picture represents a fairly accurate view of circumstances.

Wow, you really are too dumb to see the point I was making lol. Go eat rocks...

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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