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Brightest Gamma Ray Burst Detected

  • 01 Apr 2023
  • 5 min read

Why in News?

In October 2022, astronomers recorded the brightest gamma-ray radiation (named GRB 221009A) of all time, which could overturn a long-standing theory of GRB jets.

What is a Gamma-Ray Burst?

  • About:
    • Gamma-Ray Bursts are the most powerful class of explosions in the universe, and they occur when massive stars die.
    • When a massive star collapses, it creates a black hole, and the energy released during this process produces jets of high-energy particles that travel almost at the speed of light.
      • These jets pierce through the collapsing star, producing X-rays and gamma rays, which can be detected by observatories on Earth and in space.
  • Types of GRBs:
    • Long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs):
      • LGRBs last for more than two seconds and are thought to be caused by the collapse of massive stars, known as supernovae.
      • These explosions release a tremendous amount of energy and create a black hole at their center.
      • LGRBs are the most common type of GRB and can be observed from distant galaxies.
    • Short-duration gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs):
      • SGRBs last for less than two seconds and are thought to be caused by the collision of two compact objects, such as neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole.
      • SGRBs are much rarer than LGRBs, are more difficult to observe and typically located closer to our galaxy.

What is GRB 221009A?

  • About:
    • GRB 221009A was detected in October 2022, by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, and Wind spacecraft.
    • The signal originated from the direction of the constellation Sagitta, and it took approximately 1.9 billion years to reach Earth.
    • The 5-minute-long radiation pulse was the brightest GRB ever and nearly 70 times brighter than any other such eruption ever observed.
  • Observation from GRB 221009A:
    • The pulse of radiation was unusually bright and long-lasting, which made it stand out from other gamma-ray bursts.
    • The signal triggered detectors at multiple observatories, indicating its strength and duration.
  • Researchers about 221009A:
    • "Long-duration" GRBs occur when the core of a massive star collapses under its own weight, giving birth to a black hole.
    • This formation produces powerful plasma jets that shoot gamma rays at almost the speed of light. When these jets collide with the gas surrounding the dying star, a bright afterglow is produced across the spectrum.
  • Significance:
    • Astronomers from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics in India concluded that the signal was a birth cry of a black hole.
    • GRB 221009A provides astronomers with valuable insights into the formation of black holes and the mechanisms that produce gamma-ray bursts.
    • The detection of GRB 221009A will help astronomers refine their understanding of the conditions required for the formation of black holes and the production of gamma-ray bursts.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Recently, scientists observed the merger of giant ‘blackholes’ billions of light-years away from the Earth. What is the significance of this observation? (2019)

(a) ‘Higgs boson particles’ were detected.
(b) ‘Gravitational waves’ were detected.
(c) Possibility of inter-galactic space travel through ‘wormhole’ was confirmed.
(d) It enabled the scientists to understand ‘singularity’.

Ans: (b)

Source: DTE

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