This is an image of the area of the sky where the gamma-ray burst was observed. You'll see that the star at the center of the image has significantly faded in the course of one day (indicating rapidly dimming afterglow of the gamma ray burst).
Click on image for full size
NASA Photo Credit: Columbia University

The Biggest Explosion Since the Big Bang
News story originally written on May 11, 1998

A burst of energy was measured on December 14, 1997 by the Italian/Dutch BeppoSAX satellite and NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory satellite. Findings are just being released that claim that this burst is the most powerful explosion since the Big Bang. In fact, Caltech professor George Djorgovski, one of the two principal investigators on the team from the California Institute of Technology, said that, "For about one or two seconds, this burst was as luminous as all the rest of the entire universe."

This gamma-ray burst came from a faint galaxy 12 billion light years away. "The energy released by this burst in its first few seconds staggers the imagination," said Caltech professor Shrinivas Kulkarni, the other principal investigator on the team. This burst released several hundred times more energy than a supernova!

Few theoretical models sufficiently explain this release of energy. Kulkarni explained, "There are recent models, involving rotating black holes, which can work. On the other hand, this is such an extreme phenomenon that it is possible we are dealing with something completely unanticipated and even more exotic!"

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