Researchers Observe Most Powerful Gamma-Ray Burst (Photo Credit: spacetelescope.org/)
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful and brightest explosions in the Universe. They emit most of their energy in gamma rays, light which is much more energetic than the visible light we can see with our eyes. However, researchers have finally spotted the strongest gamma-ray burst. Yes, you read it right. A cataclysmic gamma-ray burst, known as GRB 190114C5, that rocked a galaxy 5 billion light-years away was detected in January this year by multiple telescopes including Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes.
The astronomical event emitted some of the highest energy observed of about 1Tera electron volt (TeV) that is equivalent to one trillion times as much energy per photon as visible light. To produce this much energy, the material has to be emitted from a collapsing star, almost at the speed of light. The material on interacting with the gas around the star produces the gamma ray-burst.
Researchers in their study published in the journal, Nature have used data from the Hubble Space Telescope, European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Researchers found that GRB 190114C5 is present in the nuclear region of a massive galaxy. This indicates that the GRB is present in a denser environment than typical location GRBs which explains the powerful radiations observed.
“Hubble’s observations suggest that this particular burst was sitting in a very dense environment, right in the middle of a bright galaxy 5 billion light years away,” explained one of the lead authors, Andrew Levan of the Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics & Particle Physics Department of Astrophysics at Radboud University in the Netherlands. “This is really unusual, and suggests that might be why it produced this exceptionally powerful light,” he added.
“Scientists have been trying to observe very-high-energy emission from gamma-ray bursts for a long time,” explained Antonio de Ugarte Postigo of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucia in Spain.
“This new observation is a vital step forward in our understanding of gamma-ray bursts, their immediate surroundings, and just how matter behaves when it is moving at 99.999% of the speed of light,” he added.