Mysterious Gamma-ray burst baffles scientists, causes NASA rethink on how black holes are formed | Tech News

Mysterious Gamma-ray burst baffles scientists, causes NASA rethink on how black holes are formed

A recent NASA study could change the understanding of gamma-ray bursts and black hole formation. Know all about it here.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Dec 12 2022, 14:25 IST
Top NASA tech that solved Mars myths and mysteries like never before
neutron star mergers
1/10 Humans have been studying Mars for hundred of years. In 1609, Galileo was the first person to peer through a telescope and get a more intimate image of what many could only have dreamed of. (Pixabay)
neutron star mergers
2/10 An up close and personal view of the red planet emerged as time progressed and so did the capabilities of telescopes. In fact, from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, many astronomers believed that Mars was home to majestic seas and lush areas of vegetation. The Dark markings on Mars surface were once believed to be caused by vegetation growing and dying. (Pixabay)
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3/10 Some even believed that intelligent life existed on Mars just because of what they saw through their simple telescopes. But that is exactly was science is about-you make educated guesses based on what you know, then change your ideas based on what you learn. (NASA)
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4/10 Now, thanks to new sophisticated equipment and robotic visits to Mars, it turns out they were caused by Martian wind. It was not until the 1960s, when NASA's Mariner missions flew by and snapped pictures of Mars that many of the myths about the red planet were dispelled. (NASA)
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5/10 That does not make Mars any less interesting. The possibility that life actually existed once on Mars is still a distinct possibility. Or it may even be existing on Mars today! No, not in the form of little green men, but on a microbial level. (NASA)
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6/10 Now, taking pictures is great and all. But nothing is better than getting to know the real thing. So, to get a better feel of Mars, Scientists and engineers built some nifty technologies, from spacecrafts to reach Mars and rovers (vehicles) to actually trundle and explore the planet. (NASA/JPL)
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7/10 Among the earliest tech deployed for Mars was Phoenix. It was launched on August 4, 2007 and so began its 9-month long, 681 Million km journey to the legendary red planet. Now, landing on a planet is not as easy as simply dropping a spacecraft onto it. There is actually a lot of steps to the process. (NASA)
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8/10 On May 25, 2008, Phoenix entered Mars atmosphere. It used its heat shield to slow down the high speed entry of 5600 meters per second or around 12500 miles per hour. It released a supersonic PARACHUTE, then detached from its parachute and used its rocket engines to land safely on the planet's surface. Phoenix' landing spot was further north and closer to the ice covered poles than any spacecraft has ever been before. (NASA)
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9/10 Phoenix had two primary goals: One was to study the history of water in the Martian arctic and the other was to search for evidence of a habitual zone and assess the biological potential of the ice soil boundary. And to do that the spacecraft was packed full of gizmos and gadgets to perform all sets of experiments and tests. One of these gizmos was a robotic arm with a shovel attached. It was used to dig up samples of the martian soil for experiments! (NASA)
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10/10 Another top tech on the Mars surface was the Surface Stereo Imager, which is really just a fancy name for the camera. Three surface stereo imagers were Phoenix' eye. Engineers built the device with two optical lenses that would allow for a three dimensional view, just like our eyes. And the SSI sent back some amazing images of the martian landscape. (Source: NASA/Justin Tully) (NASA)
neutron star mergers
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Neutron stars are the crushed remnants of massive stars that exploded as supernovae. (NASA)

Almost a year ago on December 11, Earth was witness to a high energy gamma-ray burst (GRB) which was suspected to be emitted from the outskirts of a galaxy around 1 billion light-years away. What made this cosmic burst unusual was the fact that it did not submit to any one pre-defined category of gamma-ray bursts. It left scientists baffled and put a doubt into their previous understanding of GRBs.

According to NASA, GRBs are classified into two categories – long bursts and short bursts. Long bursts which emit gamma rays for two seconds or more and originate from the formation of dense objects like black holes in the centers of massive collapsing stars. Short bursts on the other hand emit gamma rays for less than two seconds and are caused by mergers of dense objects like neutron stars.

Jillian Rastinejad, a graduate student at Northwestern University who led one team that studied the burst said in a NASA blog,” “This burst, named GRB 211211A, was paradigm-shifting as it is the first long-duration gamma-ray burst traced to a neutron star merger origin. The high-energy burst lasted about a minute, and our follow-up observations led to the identification of a kilonova. This discovery has deep implications for how the universe's heavy elements came to be.”

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According to NASA, a Kilonova is a short burst with the following flare of visible and infrared light. When two neutron stars collide, they strip off neutron-rich metal as a result of the collision which creates a cloud of hot debris.

Eleonora Troja, an astrophysicist at the University of Rome who led another team that studied the burst said,” “Many years ago, Neil Gehrels, an astrophysicist and Swift's namesake, suggested that neutron star mergers could produce some long bursts. The kilonova we observed is the proof that connects mergers to these long-duration events, forcing us to rethink how black holes are formed.”

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First Published Date: 12 Dec, 14:23 IST
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