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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 
Astronomy.com and Space.com, 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 Quadrillity on 7/19/2010 12:34:32 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
How 'fast' light travels in intergalactic space may not be constant relative to our time stream.

Exactly. The next galaxy could be literally located 3 feet away from ours, and there would be know way of "truly knowing" ... unless someone has invented interstellar travel without me knowing.


RE: Didn't we just...
By maven81 on 7/19/2010 2:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, but if we had invented interstellar travel and could actually go there, then you would just argue that all we really proved was that this particular object was 5 billion light years away. And you would insist that this doesn't prove our methods are correct, because how do we know every other object is like this one? We would have to visit every single one of them for you to be happy.

What you are doing is taking a very nihilistic approach towards science. There's a big difference between healthy skepticism and a belief that nothing can be proven. Taken to an extreme, how do I know that you actually exist and are not just a figment of my imagination?

Scientists don't operate on blind faith as you seem to imply. The theory has to fit the available evidence, and if that's no longer the case it will be replaced with a newer theory. Just as Newtonian physics was expanded upon by Einstein, and I'm sure that one day Einstein's physics will be expanded upon by someone else.
It wouldn't surprise me if some of Einstein's assumptions turned out to be wrong, but that doesn't mean that it puts everything we know about the universe in doubt.

By the way in case you were curious how you actually measure distances to such far away objects in the first place I suggest reading up on redshift, the Doppler effect, and the Hubble constant.


RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/19/2010 4:24:00 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Ah, but if we had invented interstellar travel and could actually go there, then you would just argue that all we really proved was that this particular object was 5 billion light years away. And you would insist that this doesn't prove our methods are correct, because how do we know every other object is like this one? We would have to visit every single one of them for you to be happy.

You can not be serious ... Have you read a single word of what I have already posted here? Did you truthfully follow what I said in a recent article? If you had, you would not be so quick to post that naive and ill conceived preconception of me.
quote:
There's a big difference between healthy skepticism and a belief that nothing can be proven. Taken to an extreme, how do I know that you actually exist and are not just a figment of my imagination?

Quote me (in context) of exactly where I gave any kind of indication that I think this way. Until then, you are just making idiotic assumptions of me.
quote:
By the way in case you were curious how you actually measure distances to such far away objects in the first place I suggest reading up on redshift, the Doppler effect, and the Hubble constant.

Yet again someone else who assumes that posing questions mean that I don't actually do my own research/understand the concepts.

You just plain out don't understand the simple logical questions that I asked. You immediately went on the defensive and ranted and raved. Please go back, and actually read the questions that I ask. They are very simple, and require no deep thought.


RE: Didn't we just...
By SPOOFE on 7/19/2010 4:56:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yet again someone else who assumes that posing questions mean that I don't actually do my own research/understand the concepts.

You asserted that another galaxy could be "literally 3 feet away". I'm sorry, that's just a very stupid thing to say. The appearance of objects has consistent effects at varying distances. Hell, this is apparent if you've ever watched a sports game.

Stop whining; your comments make it clear that you have no idea what you're talking about. It's nobody's fault but your own that you're ignorant.


RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/19/10, Rating: -1
RE: Didn't we just...
By SPOOFE on 7/19/2010 4:54:19 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The next galaxy could be literally located 3 feet away from ours

There are too many observations that are all consistent with each other for your assertion to be anything but really, really stupid.


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