NASA's Fermi and Swift telescopes capture record-setting gamma-ray burst

Washington, May 4 (ANI): Astronomers from around the world were blown away by a record-setting blast of gamma rays from a dying star in a distant galaxy.

The eruption, which is classified as a gamma-ray burst, or GRB, and designated GRB 130427A, produced the highest-energy light ever detected from such an event.

"We have waited a long time for a gamma-ray burst this shockingly, eye-wateringly bright," Julie McEnery, project scientist for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md said.

"The GRB lasted so long that a record number of telescopes on the ground were able to catch it while space-based observations were still ongoing," she said.

Just after 3:47 am EDT on Saturday, April 27, Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) triggered on an eruption of high-energy light in the constellation Leo.

The burst occurred as NASA's Swift satellite was slewing between targets, which delayed its Burst Alert Telescope's detection by less than a minute.

Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) recorded one gamma ray with an energy of at least 94 billion electron volts (GeV), or some 35 billion times the energy of visible light, and about three times greater than the LAT's previous record.

The GeV emission from the burst lasted for hours, and it remained detectable by the LAT for the better part of a day, setting a new record for the longest gamma-ray emission from a GRB.

The burst subsequently was detected in optical, infrared and radio wavelengths by ground-based observatories, based on the rapid accurate position from Swift.

Astronomers quickly learned that the GRB was located about 3.6 billion light-years away, which for these events is relatively close.

Gamma-ray bursts are the universe's most luminous explosions.

Astronomers think most occur when massive stars run out of nuclear fuel and collapse under their own weight.

As the core collapses into a black hole, jets of material shoot outward at nearly the speed of light.

If the GRB is near enough, astronomers usually discover a supernova at the site a week or so after the outburst. (ANI)

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