Friday, April 08, 2011

Powerful Space Explosion May Herald Star's Death By Black Hole

From   A large and unusually long-lasting outpouring of x-radiation brought attention to GRB 110328A.

The explosion looks like a gamma-ray burst — the most powerful type of explosion in the universe, which usually mark the destruction of a massive star — but the flaring emissions from these dramatic events never last more than a few hours, researchers said.

“We know of objects in our own galaxy that can produce repeated bursts, but they are thousands to millions of times less powerful than the bursts we are seeing now,” said Andrew Fruchter, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, in a statement today (April 7). “This is truly extraordinary.”

The space explosion was detected on March 28 when an instrument on NASA's Swift satellite detected an X-ray eruption

“The fact that the explosion occurred in the center of a galaxy tells us it is most likely associated with a massive black hole,” said Neil Gehrels, the lead scientist for Swift at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Image credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler