They're Here, They're There, They're Everywhere!
Gamma Ray Bursts! (A Double Feature)
Gamma Ray bursts are the most powerful explosions which
take place in the universe. They were first discovered in
the late 1960's. For many years scientists puzzled over
how far away they are and what causes them. The BATSE
instrument on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory observes
these bursts about once a day, uniformly distributed throughout
the sky. This suggested that the bursts occur very far away,
but how far still remained a mystery.
In 1997, the Beppo-SAX satellite, along with ground based
observatories, made the discoveries which transformed our
understanding of these brilliant flashes of gamma rays. Beppo-Sax
employed a technique using a special aperture mask to determine the
location of the bursts. The first video of our double feature
explains what scientists then discovered.
Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.