The locations of all 2704 Gamma Ray Bursts detected by BATSE in the 9 year mission.
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NASA, Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, BATSE Team
Gamma Ray Bursts - The Most Powerful Objects in the Universe?
In the 1960's, the United States launched a series of satellites
to look for very high energy photons, called Gamma Rays, that are
produced whenever a nuclear bomb explodes. These satellites soon
detected many bursts of Gamma Rays, but they were not coming from
explosions on Earth. They were coming from outer space.
Modern satellites, like the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and
NASA's Swift mission,
have now detected thousands of these Gamma
Ray Bursts. They happen about once a day and come from all over
the sky, as the map shows. There seem to be two main types of
bursts. Some are short, lasting less than 2 seconds. Others are
longer, bursting for as long as 1000 seconds. We now believe that
all Gamma Ray Bursts come from high-energy explosions that create
black holes in distant galaxies. The two types
of bursts come from two different ways to make a black hole.
Short Gamma Ray Bursts seem to come from binary systems, where two
neutron stars are orbiting each other. These
collapsed stars slowly lose energy and eventually merge together to
form a black hole. The gamma rays come from leftover debris falling
into the black hole.
Long Gamma Ray Bursts come from the deaths of stars that are between
50 and 100 times the mass of the Sun. At the end of their lives, these
massive stars collapse and explode as a type of
supernova that is unusually bright, called
a hypernova. The gamma rays shoot out along jets from these explosions,
which sometimes point toward the Earth.
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