Cominsky, Lynn Department of Physics and Astronomy, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California.
Last reviewed:November 2018
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- Gamma-ray bursts, published 2016:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Gamma-ray bursts, published June 2013:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- History of observations
- March 1979 event
- CGRO observations
- Discovery of afterglows and distances
- Observations with burst alert systems
- Observational properties
- Long duration bursts
- Short duration bursts
- Important observations of individual GRBs
- Other phenomena
- Present and future studies
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Short cosmic blasts of very high energy electromagnetic radiation (gamma radiation) that are recorded at an average of about once per day by detectors placed above the Earth's atmosphere. At distances of billions of light-years, the energy emitted in a gamma-ray burst (GRB) is more than a billion billion (1018) times the energy emitted each second by the Sun (Fig. 1). The mechanism for the origin of gamma-ray bursts remains a focus of current research. Gamma-ray bursts longer than 2 s appear to be associated with the supernova explosions of massive stars in distant galaxies. Recent evidence supports that shorter gamma-ray bursts are the result of merging neutron stars or black holes, although other explanations are also possible. There are indications that both types of gamma-ray bursts lead to the birth of black holes. See also: Black hole; Galaxy; Gamma rays; Neutron star; Star; Supernova
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