scientists have identified a violent cosmic eruption that temporarily
blinded a NASA satellite in June. An X-ray telescope
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.
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.
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: 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.
quote: Yet again someone else who assumes that posing questions mean that I don't actually do my own research/understand the concepts.