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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 bh192012 on 7/20/2010 11:50:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Purely false. There is not one single piece of existing technology that allows us to measure anything outside of our physical reach (that you can claim to be accurate). Do you measure to cut boards with a pair of binoculars? No, we physically measure it, and can justify it as being accurate. You can see other galaxies/stars/planets/etc sure, but we can not say "fact" anything. All observations are purely speculative and the opinion of whoever is looking.


Why do you think laying a strip of tape on something is more accurate than using lasers/optics and time/math? You can ponder some great illusion just beyond our reach if you want but you're going to have a much more difficult time with an illusion within arms reach. Any reality distorion field that close will also screw up your tape measure and render logic pointless.

At this point we can all go home and give up on logic, or we can admit things like "optics, lasers and math" are more accurate than a tape measure. Our brains use something called parallax to measure distance, so we don't walk into walls etc. We can use the same technique to measure things in space out to a thousand or more light years.
Great, now we've established a large collection of stars distance in our galaxy with accuracy. Using other techniques we also know the size, spectral type, metalicity and other facts about these stars. Facts that you have to accept as true, unless you go around flinching and disbelieving that the tree in front of you is actually far away. These facts are not paper thin at all. They are thick and tougher than steel.

We can now use these stars as benchmarks. Some of these stars act in a very specific way, Type 1a supernova for instance reach a very specific size, brightness etc. as determined by math. Now we can use those facts to determine distance. Is it exact, perfect accuracy down to the mm? No, but we can calculate the margin of error and it isn't terrible. The margin of error does get bigger as we try to measure things that are farther away, but it tends to be reasonable, otherwise it gets shot down by other skeptical scientists before it gets published.

(ps. I would love to see a sniper measure distance with a tape measure.)


RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/20/2010 12:49:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At this point we can all go home and give up on logic, or we can admit things like "optics, lasers and math" are more accurate than a tape measure.

If you think that this was anything close to the point I was making the you were looking way too far into my post. I guess you: 1. made an assumption that I was an uneducated boob. and 2. that I acutally think we would use tape measures as the most accurate method.
quote:
now we've established a large collection of stars distance in our galaxy with accuracy.

LOL! Thanks for proving my point! What did we compare our math to in order to produce an "accurate" result? HAHA you just don't get it do you?

It's like me standing away from a suspended object; I calculated the area of said object using [insert several reasonable methods]. Make a note that the object is line of sight only and we have no way of physically reaching it. We also have no way of knowing what's on the other side of this object. It could actually be cone shaped for all we know.

And for those of you too gullible to understand this next concept: The best images we have ever seen for objects within distance galaxies have been about the same size as this dot(and smaller!). What most people see is rendered images of what "we think" these look like in detail.

http://www.le.ac.uk/ph/faulkes/web/galaxies/r_ga_s...

This is what we really see. And if you find anything "fact based" conclusive from that then you are surely arrogant to say so.


RE: Didn't we just...
By maven81 on 7/20/2010 2:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
"It's like me standing away from a suspended object; I calculated the area of said object using [insert several reasonable methods]. Make a note that the object is line of sight only and we have no way of physically reaching it. We also have no way of knowing what's on the other side of this object. It could actually be cone shaped for all we know."

You are VASTLY downplaying our knowledge. (And even the power of deductive reasoning). A cone would have a different volume then say a sphere. The different volume would have a different mass. The different mass would have a different gravity which would be something we could theoretically detect even if it was half way across the known universe.
You again stubbornly refuse to accept that we HAVE solved problems like this one. We've determined that some asteroids are rubble piles while others are solid rock without ever stepping foot on one. How is that possible in your world?

"And for those of you too gullible to understand this next concept: The best images we have ever seen for objects within distance galaxies have been about the same size as this dot(and smaller!). What most people see is rendered images of what "we think" these look like in detail."

You don't know what the hell you're talking about. For example the nearest galaxy, Andromeda appears to take up 3 degrees of our sky. For reference, the full moon is about half a degree. That means Andromeda looks 6x wider then the full moon! (it's just a very dim object, so unless you have a dark sky it's pretty hard to make it out).
We can see individual stars in galaxies tens of millions of lightyears away. Granted galaxies billions of lightyears away look like a faint smudge but they still take up more then 1 pixel.
Now if you get into radio astronomy and set up arrays of telescopes all acting as one dish we have indeed resolved features of galaxies billions of lightyears away.


RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/20/2010 3:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Now if you get into radio astronomy and set up arrays of telescopes all acting as one dish we have indeed resolved features of galaxies billions of lightyears away.

And yet they are still a few pixels in size. My point exactly.


RE: Didn't we just...
By maven81 on 7/20/2010 3:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong!

Here's a radio image of Quasar 3C273 which is 2.4 billion light years away.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2000/0131/0131_ra...
Now tell me that's several pixels! You can now try to spin that by several you mean 100... but you specifically said "the size of this dot".


RE: Didn't we just...
By Quadrillity on 7/20/2010 4:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, now point out to me in that blurry little picture a water based planet. LoL, you can't. That's supposed to be an entire galaxy in an image half the size of a piece of notebook paper. You have got to be kidding me haha.

The reason I ask is because how many times have you read an article that says, "Water based planet discovered 6 billion ly away that may support life"... in a supposed reputable science based media.

I'm going to keep replying just because you can't agree to disagree, and it seems to make you angry.


RE: Didn't we just...
By maven81 on 7/20/2010 6:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
"Ok, now point out to me in that blurry little picture a water based planet. LoL, you can't. That's supposed to be an entire galaxy in an image half the size of a piece of notebook paper. You have got to be kidding me haha.

The reason I ask is because how many times have you read an article that says, "Water based planet discovered 6 billion ly away that may support life"... in a supposed reputable science based media."


Uh, that would be never. Of the over 400 extrasolar planets discovered so far not a single one is outside of this galaxy. Hell, they aren't even outside our local neighborhood. I think the furthest ones are around 25,000 lightyears away. THOUSAND.
Second, none of them have been described as water based. And finally I think only a handful are in an orbit that may be suitable for life temperature wise. (not boiling hot or frozen over). So you better post some links about this discovery because that would be a big deal!

"I'm going to keep replying just because you can't agree to disagree, and it seems to make you angry."

Or I just enjoy pointing out how silly your assertions are, and injecting real astronomy into daily tech since we get to talk about it pretty rarely.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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