According to NASA, an abnormally bright and long-lasting radiation blast glided past Earth on Sunday, October 9. Per reports, this cosmic pulse came from a “gamma-ray burst,” one of the most extreme kinds of explosions in our existence.
As the wave of X-rays and gamma rays swept through the solar system, it prompted detectors at NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, and Wind spacecraft, as well as other observatories.
The blast came from the direction of the constellation Sagitta, and its journey took nearly 1.9 billion years to reach our planet. Currently, scientists theorize that it resulted from a massive star’s heart collapsing under its own weight as it created a black hole.
According to experts, when this occurs, the birthing black hole attracts intense streams of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light. When these particles penetrate the star, it creates X-rays and gamma rays.
This past April, NASA’s NICER X-ray telescope and a Japanese detector called Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) were paired to create OHMAN (Orbiting High-energy Monitor Alert Network).
This subsequent eruption created a fantastic chance for observers to study the two linked experiments. With the partnership, NICER swiftly and automatically turns to outbursts detected by MAXI. In the past, scientists relied on interventions by experts on the ground.
“OHMAN provided an automated alert that enabled NICER to follow up within three hours, as soon as the source became visible to the telescope. Future opportunities could result in response times of a few minutes” said Zaven Arzoumanian, NICER science lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in an agency press statement.
NASA’s Lucy spacecraft makes its return to Earth
In addition, this GRB allows scientists to gain new insights into stellar collapses and the creation of black holes. It also helps them become more educated about matter interactions when they approach the speed of light. Per NASA, another GRB like this may not happen for decades.
On Sunday, NASA’s spacecraft Lucy returned to Earth as part of its 12-year-mission to visit asteroids. During the event, people could live stream observations of the Lucy asteroid spacecraft online.
“Every time something interesting happens up there, the Virtual Telescope Project does its best to bring to the world the opportunity to have a look, in real-time. We are particularly happy to share this time the Lucy flyby,” Italian astrophysicist and founder of the project, Gianluca Masi, said.
“It will be possible for our viewers to spot something made by humans on its journey of discovery. This spacecraft will help us understand the origin of our solar system by visiting asteroids.”
Lucy is returning home for a gravity assist that will slingshot the spacecraft into a new orbit in preparation for making its way toward the never-before-visited Jupiter Trojan asteroids.