Astronomers Determine the Source of a Rare Massive Gamma-Ray Burst

Gamma Ray Burst

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An artist’s impression of a gamma-ray burst within the second after the collapse of its progenitor star. Credit: Nuria Jordana-Mitjans/University of Bath

Scientists decide {that a} gamma-ray burst detected on Earth was brought on by an area explosion that occurred when the universe was lower than 900 million years outdated.

On September 5, 2021, gentle from a really energetic gamma-ray burst (GRB) – an extremely energetic explosion that occurred in a faraway galaxy – reached our planet. To get to Earth, it traveled for greater than 12.eight billion years. The glow started its journey when the Universe (which is taken into account to be 13.7 billion years outdated) was simply 880 million years outdated.

A worldwide workforce of astronomers proceeded to review the explosion’s afterglow within the months that adopted this discovering with a purpose to perceive what prompted it. Dr. Andrea Rossi, a researcher on the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), headed the group. Professor Carole Mundell from the University of Bath was additionally concerned.

The scientists got here to the conclusion that the GRB that prompted the glow was one of the distant and energetic ones ever discovered. Additionally, it had one of the luminous afterglows ever seen.

The scientists had been additionally stunned to see that regardless of the GRB 210905A’s age, it displayed properties (akin to X-ray wavelength) which are strikingly just like these seen in GRBs produced by cosmic explosions that occurred each way more not too long ago and much nearer to Earth.

“Thanks to our observations, we can conclude that the mechanism responsible for GRBs does not evolve with the Universe,” says Dr. Rossi.

Professor Mundell, Hiroko Sherwin Chair in Extragalactic Astronomy and head of Astrophysics at Bath, was additionally concerned within the analysis. She says: “As one of the most powerful and distant cosmic explosions yet found, this rare Gamma-Ray Burst joins a tiny club of such bursts discovered from early in the history of the Universe – and this one is from the brightest host galaxy ever detected.

“This discovery gives us new understanding and confirmation that massive stars – which live fast and die hard – are forming and evolving early in the universe.”

First got here the explosion

The GRB noticed on this research was the ‘long’ sort, which means it got here from a black hole that would have arisen from the catastrophic collapse of a massive star. ‘Short’ GRBs are usually linked to the collision of compact objects such as neutron stars.

The light burst was first detected by instruments aboard the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory in orbit around the Earth, as well as Konus-WIND, a GRB-hunting telescope operating in interplanetary space.

Observations continued for eight further months using an array of major telescopes both on the ground and in space. These included the Hubble, Swift, and Chandra telescopes.

“Once again, we have shown that when dealing with transient phenomena, you need to be able to act quickly and have the right tools,” says Dr. Rossi. “You have to be able to both observe the phenomenon when it is still bright to obtain a clear and unequivocal result, and then you need access to those facilities that allow you to cover a large wavelength range, from gamma-rays to X-rays, optical and radio.”

The researchers expect to deepen their understanding of the original explosion with the help of the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope.

“This telescope has just begun to demonstrate its incredible capabilities, promising to unveil the characteristics of the environment where the massive star at the origin of this GRB was born,” says Dr. Rossi.

Most of the astronomers involved in the GRB study are members of the STARGATE collaboration, which brings together all those active in GRB follow-up with ESO facilities.

Professor Mundell says: “This is an exciting example of collaboration and coordination between scientists around the world, working together to gather, combine and interpret data taken using a suite of telescopes and detectors on the ground and in space, catching the fading light from this burst at energies across the electromagnetic spectrum – and in real-time.”

Reference: “A blast from the infant Universe: The very high-z GRB 210905A” by A. Rossi, D. D. Frederiks, D. A. Kann, M. De Pasquale, E. Pian1, G. Lamb, P. D’Avanzo, L. Izzo, A. J. Levan, D. B. Malesani, A. Melandri, A. Nicuesa Guelbenzu, S. Schulze, R. Strausbaugh, N. R. Tanvir, L. Amati1, S. Campana, A. Cucchiara, G. Ghirlanda, M. Della Valle, S. Klose, R. Salvaterra, R. L. C. Starling, G. Stratta, A. E. Tsvetkova, S. D. Vergani, A. D’Aì, D. Burgarella, S. Covino, V. D’Elia, A. de Ugarte Postigo, H. Fausey, J. P. U. Fynbo, F. Frontera, C. Guidorzi, K. E. Heintz, N. Masetti, E. Maiorano, C. G. Mundell, S. R. Oates, M. J. Page, E. Palazzi, J. Palmerio, G. Pugliese, A. Rau, A. Saccardi, B. Sbarufatti, D. S. Svinkin, G. Tagliaferri, A. J. van der Horst, D. J. Watson, M. V. Ulanov, K. Wiersema, D. Xu and J. Zhang, 21 September 2022, Astronomy and Astrophysics.
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202243225