The Earth was hit by a record-breaking energy burst from a dying star.
A falling star has produced a record-breaking blip of high-energy radiation, according to scientists.
Astronomers discovered a gamma-ray burst, or GRB, that had raced towards Earth from deep space using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. GRB 200826A is the name given to it.
GRBs are formed when something extremely energetic occurs in space, and they are classified into two types: long GRBs and short GRBs.
Short GRBs are created when two dense stars, or even a star and a black hole, collide in an event that lasts only a few seconds. When big stars collide, long GRBs are produced.
GRB 200826A, discovered in August 2020, shocked astronomers because it was brief but appeared to be the result of a star’s collapse.
It’s thought to be the shortest GRB yet discovered produced in this manner.
It was also really effective. The energy generated by that single gamma-ray burst was 14 million times greater than the energy released by the entire Milky Way galaxy over the same time span.
GRB 200826A was one of the most intense short-duration GRBs ever reported, according to Tomás Ahumada, a doctorate student at the University of Maryland who co-authored a study paper about it.
When stars run out of hydrogen, the fuel that keeps them blazing, they collapse. They begin to collapse in on themselves without this fuel because of their massive interior bulk.
As the star’s mass collapses in on itself, two tremendous jets of radiation shoot out in opposite directions. If one of these jets is aimed squarely at Earth, astronomers can detect it using specially specialized telescopes and determine where it came from in the universe.
Following the discovery of GRB 200826A, researchers examined the region of sky where the burst appeared to originate and discovered that it came from a galaxy 6.6 billion light years away, implying that the gamma-ray burst would have taken roughly half the duration of the universe to reach us.
The astronomers also discovered the afterglow of the star’s collapse, known as a supernova, indicating that the GRB’s source was a collapsing star rather than a binary merger event, which is usually associated with brief GRBs.