A Dying Star Went Out in Style

NASA has recorded powerful gamma rays and X-rays coming from space. They believed the rays are coming from a star that has just died and the birth of a black hole. The dying star produced some of the most powerful GRBs NASA has ever recorded.

NASA has recorded powerful gamma rays and X-rays coming from space. They believed the rays are coming from a star that has just died and the birth of a black hole. The dying star produced some of the most powerful GRBs NASA has ever recorded.

Oct. 9, telescopes worldwide, and a few more around the solar system, detected X-rays and gamma rays flying through space. Telescopes all around detected the rays and immediately turned their attention to where the bursts were coming from.

Source of Power

Astronomers believe the waves came from a dying star that collapsed on itself. They also believe that it was the birth of a black hole. 

When a star dies, if it is massive enough, it could cause an explosion and create a supernova. Once the dust settles, what remains of the star could potentially form a black hole. This birth begins at the core of the star and pushes particles outward. These particles pass through the star at the speed of light causing x-rays and gamma rays to travel through space.

NASA calls these bursts gamma-ray bursts, or GRB for short. This recent GRB is named GRB 221009A. NASA deemed it the most powerful gamma-ray burst they had ever witnessed. 

The Power of Death

The GRB originated from the direction of the constellation Sagitta. Astronomers believe the burst traveled 1.9 billion years across space to reach Earth. According to NASA’s report, GRB 221009A also produced 18 teraelectronvolts which shattered the previous record. Before this GRB, no other GRB had passed 10 teraelectronvolts.

Oh Man

Astronomers were happy to test a new experiment on the International Space Station. A combination of NASA’s NICER X-ray telescope and a Japanese detector named MAXI were put together to detect GRBs like this. Together, NICER and MAXI form the Orbiting High-energy Monitor Alert Network, also known as OHMAN. 

OHMAN allows NICER to turn towards outbursts detected by MAXI. MAXI sends an automated signal to NICER, allowing NICER to turn and capture the observation as fast as possible. 

Before OHMAN, this process would have required actions from scientists on the ground. NICER was able to respond within three hours because of this new automation. 

Future Findings

One reason GRB 221009A seemed so bright to us here is because of how close it was. This burst happened closer than typical GRBs and allowed astronomers to get a closer look at a stellar collapse, the birth of a black hole, and much more. The hope is that the black hole isn’t too close.