According to a NASA statement released on Thursday, astronomers throughout the world witnessed an extraordinarily intense and long-lasting pulse of high-energy radiation that raced over Earth on Sunday, October 9th. The event was caused by a gamma-ray burst (GRB), one of the most luminous phenomena ever observed.
A wave X-ray & gamma ray traversing through the solar system
Astronomers discovered the event when NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, & Wind spacecraft, among others, observed a wave of X-rays & gamma rays passing through solar system.
The 10th Fermi Symposium, which is currently taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, had an unexpectedly thrilling beginning, which was known as GRB 221009A.
Everyone is talking about this, so it’s safe to say that the conference has started off strongly, according to Judy Racusin, a Fermi deputy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is attending conference.
The signal was tracked back to the constellation Sagitta, and the astronomers determined that it took 1.9 billion years for it to reach Earth. They believe it is the start of a new black hole created by a big star collapsing under its own weight. When this happens, a fledgling black hole produces tremendous jets of particles that travel near the speed of light, penetrating the star and emitting X-rays & gamma rays.
The incident also provided an opportunity to observe a link between two experiments on the International Space Station: NASA’s NICER X-ray telescope and the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI). The Orbiting High-energy Monitor Alert Network (OHMAN) was named after the two instruments that were brought together in April.
According to Zaven Arzoumanian, the NICER scientific director at Goddard, “OHMAN delivered an automated alert that enabled NICER to follow up within 3 hours, as soon as the source became visible to the telescope.” Response times of a few minutes may be possible in the future.
Providing useful new insights
This one-of-a-kind event sheds new light on stellar collapse, birth of a black hole, the behaviour & interaction of matter at near-light speeds, the conditions in a distant galaxy, and much more. The conditions behind its creation may not reappear again for decades.
Because it is quite close to us, Fermi’s Large Area Telescope claimed that it was able to detect the burst for more than 10 hours.
As a doctoral student at the Polytechnic University of Bari in Italy, Roberta Pillera led the initial communications about the burst and is a member of the Fermi LAT Collaboration. “This burst is much closer than typical GRBs, which is exciting because it allows us to detect many details that otherwise would be too faint to see,” she said.
But it’s also one of the most energetic & luminous bursts ever observed, making it twice as thrilling, regardless of distance.