Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: NASA's Swift spacecraft, which specializes in the detection of Gamma-ray bursts, has detected its 1000th one.
GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe, typically associated with the collapse of a massive star and the birth of a black hole.
Wikipedia defines GRB's as flashes of gamma rays associated with extremely energetic explosions that have been observed in distant galaxies. They are the brightest electromagnetic events known to occur in the universe. Bursts can last from ten milliseconds to several hours. The initial burst is usually followed by a longer-lived "afterglow" emitted at longer wavelengths (X ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, microwave and radio).
According to NASA, shortly before 6:41 p.m. EDT on Oct. 27, Swift's Burst Alert Telescope detected the 1,000th GRB as a sudden pulse of gamma rays arising from a location toward the constellation Eridanus. Astronomers dubbed the event GRB 151027B, after the detection date and the fact that it was the second burst of the day. Swift automatically determined its location, broadcast the position to astronomers around the world, and turned to investigate the source with its own sensitive X-ray, ultraviolet and optical telescopes.
NASA went on to quote Swift’s director of mission operations and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, John Nousek, who said that, “Over the years, astronomers have constantly refined their techniques to get their telescopes onto the burst site in the shortest possible time. In fact, the process to follow up Swift GRB alerts is as productive as ever”.
The spacecraft remains in great shape after nearly 11 years in space, and NASA scientists expect to see many more GRBs to come.