'Monster' cosmic explosion capable of destroying Earth captured in distant galaxy
Scientists record the biggest and brightest cosmic explosion ever witnessed, luckily it was in a far-off galaxy
The biggest and brightest cosmic explosion ever witnessed was captured by orbiting telescopes last spring, astronomers have said.
Branded ‘the monster’ by scientists, lucky for us on Earth, the huge gamma ray explosion happened in a far off galaxy 3.7 billion light-years away.
"This burst was a once-in-a-century cosmic event," Nasa astrophysics chief Paul Hertz said at a news conference Thursday.
A gamma ray burst happens when a massive star dies, collapses into a black hole, explodes in what's called a supernova and ejects energetic radiation. A planet caught in one of these bursts would lose its atmosphere instantly and be left a burnt cinder, scientists say.
Although orbiting Nasa telescopes have been capturing bursts every couple of days for more than 20 years, this one smashed records, four studies published Thursday in the journal Science said.
Witnessed on April 27, the explosion flooded Nasa instruments with five times the energy of its nearest competitor, a 1999 blast, said University of Alabama at Huntsville astrophysicist Rob Preece, who authored one of the studies.
In general, gamma ray bursts are "the most titanic explosions in the universe," Preece said, and this one was so big that some of the telescope instruments hit their peak. It was far stronger and lasted longer than any previous ones.
"I call it the monster," Preece said. One of the separate studies, produced independent of Preece, also used the word "monster" in its title.
"These are really neat explosions," said Peter Michelson, a Stanford physicist who is the chief scientist for one of the instruments on a Nasa gamma ray burst-spotting telescope. "If you like fireworks, you can't beat these. Other than the Big Bang itself, these are the biggest there are."
Scientists have assured that it is extremely unlikely a gamma ray burst, especially a large one, could go off in our galaxy. Harvard's Avi Loeb put the chances at less than 1 in 10 million.
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...