Scientists have discovered the brightest gamma-ray burst which is considered one of the most powerful space explosions. Do you want to know what has really caused it, and how it was discovered?

Then, look at the recent findings first!

Scientist have explored a structured jet carrying large amounts of blown star guts. They are pointing right at Earth, and triggering a record-breaking space explosion. It it up the sky with the highest power we’ve ever seen.

GRB 221009A, an astronomical observation has recently discovered in October of last year. It was so bright that the instruments struggled to detect it.

However, when the first traces of this gamma ray burst appeared, scientists hurried to point telescopes in its direction. With the quantity of data gathered, an international team of experts finally found out how the supernova produced such a powerful kaboom.

Meet the Boat the Brightest Gamma Ray of all the Time!

GRB 221009A, also known as the BOAT (for Brightest of All Time), was caused by the death of a huge star 2.4 billion light-years away, which collapsed into a black hole after shedding its outer shell. And its very intriguing to know that this collapse created a longest gamma-ray burst with a narrow, and organized jet surrounded by a larger outflow of gas.

It should be prior know that our present models anticipate that the explosion will only produce a jet. The discoveries have consequences for our knowledge of black hole development and one of the brightest explosions in the Universe, boat gamma ray burst.

Brightest Space Explosion
GRB 221009A (inside the purple circle) shining brightly amid the stars. Credit: NASA

As the above picture is the gamma ray burst real image, so it can be clearly seen that the different shades of stars has added into the beautification of this gamma ray.

Are Astronomers Calling it the Brightest Gamma Ray Burst of all the Time? 

If you are an astrophysics enthusiast, and want to know more about this interesting, and brightest gamma ever detected defines explanation, then let’s take a deep dive into the ocean of knowledge!

An astronomer Brendan O’Connor of George Washington University, lead author on the new paper, has said:

“GRB 221009A represents a massive step forward in our understanding of gamma-ray bursts, and demonstrates that the most extreme explosions do not obey the standard physics assumed for garden variety gamma-ray bursts. It has the potential to become the long GRBs’ equivalent of the Rosetta stone, compelling us to reassess our established theories about the formation of relativistic outflows in collapsing massive stars.

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful explosions ever observed in the universe, and they can manifest in various ways. GRB 221009A, along with other largest gamma-ray bursts, occurs when massive stars, large in size and rapidly spinning, meet their death.

As these stars reach the end of their lifespan, their cores undergo gravitational collapse, giving birth to incredibly dense entities like black holes, as they can no longer sustain fusion through outward pressure.

Simultaneously, the outer layers of these stars are propelled outward in a colossal explosion known as a supernova.

The long duration of Gamma ray burst 2022 suggested a supernova, but it wasn’t immediately clear what we were looking at.

However, experts became even more perplexed as they delved deeper into the findings, research, and probability, due to the truly astonishing magnitude of the blast – a world record-breaking 18 teraelectronvolts.

Brightest gamma ray burst
Timelapse of GRB 221009A over several days. Credit: (NASA/Swift/A. Beardmore, University of Leicester)


What is the Closest Potential Gamma Ray Burst?

If you want to know the closest boat gamma ray burst, then you should know about the Wolf–Rayet stars. They are known by their intense heat and immense size that have discarded their hydrogen envelope. They are probably the most similar counterparts in the Milky Way galaxy to the stars. And they are responsible for generating largest gamma-ray bursts.

We know that gamma-ray bursts are accompanied by jets, twin columns of material that emerge from opposing sides of a collapsing object and convey material at relativistic velocities, or a significant fraction of the speed of light. Aside from this, we also know that these jets appear brighter when they are pointed directly at us; imagine looking straight down the beam of a flashlight rather than at an angle.

Will Brightest Gamma Ray Burst Will Ever Hit Earth?

If you are confused about the, “Gamma ray burst hit Earth” thought, then let us put your confusion to the rest!

Scientists had already determined that GRB 221009A’s jet was aimed at Earth, yet the explosion’s afterglow was still visible months later. This is unusual for a narrow emission jet, implying that something else was happening.

Based on the team’s discoveries, scientists have found that a significant amount of star material from the outer layers was pulled along by the jet when it forcefully broke through.

gamma ray burst
Artist’s impression of a gamma-ray burst. Credit: (ESO/A. Roquette)

“GRB jets need to go through the collapsing star in which they are formed,” explains astrophysicist Hendrik Van Eerten of the University of Bath in the UK.

“What we think made the difference, in this case, was the amount of mixing that happened between the stellar material and the jet, such that shock-heated gas kept appearing in our line of sight all the way up to the point that any characteristic jet signature would have been lost in the overall emission from the afterglow.”

The findings may help explain earlier the brightest gamma-ray burst ever seen that lacked the normal jet signature. These explosions could be made up of a narrow jet pointing in our direction. And smashing through and dragging the guts of exploding stars.

O’Connor, an Astrosphysics scientist says.

“The exceptionally largest GRB 221009A is the brightest Gamma Ray Burst ever recorded and its afterglow is smashing all records at all wavelengths,” 

Once in a Thousand Years Explosion!

With its extraordinary brightness and proximity, this brightest gamma ray burst presents a captivating and rare chance. And it is also surprising to know that this occurring perhaps once in a thousand years. And it takes times to delve into the very core of these explosions.

It opens up an interesting pathway towards another wondering enigmas. Such as the birth of black holes to investigating the validity of dark matter models.

A gamma-ray burst (GRB) emitted the BOAT, or “brightest of all time,” radiation pulse on October 9, 2022. This rare occurrence has piqued the interest of NASA scientists who have launched missions to study it. The burst was so powerful that it overwhelmed most gamma-ray instruments in space, making it challenging to record the actual intensity of the emission. However, US scientists were able to reconstruct the data using Fermi data. They contrasted their findings with Russian researchers examining Konus data and Chinese teams evaluating observations from their satellite’s GECAM-C detector and Insight-HXMT observatory equipment. Together, their findings revealed that the burst was 70 times brighter than any previously recorded, making it a significant event that may shed new light on the study of gamma-ray bursts and their impact on the universe.

First, let’s find out:

The brightest burst of X-rays and gamma rays in a decade:

A group of astronomers has recently discovered the brightest burst of X-rays and gamma rays in a decade. Eric Burns, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, led an analysis of about 7,000 GRBs, mainly detected by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Russian Konus instrument on NASA’s Wind spacecraft. This analysis aimed to determine the frequency of such bright events, with their answer being once every 10,000 years. Burns says: “GRB 221009A was likely the brightest burst at X-ray and gamma-ray energies to occur since human civilization began.”

Further, he said that GRB 221009A was likely the brightest X-ray and gamma-ray burst since human civilization started. Burns and other scientists presented their results at the American Astronomical Society High Energy Astrophysics Division conference in Waikoloa, Hawaii. NASA and partner missions provided data on the burst from radio waves to gamma rays. Papers detailing the results presented at the meeting have appeared in a focus issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. After 1.9 billion years, GRB 221009A hit Earth. Scientists believe such blasts are black holes’ birth cries. As the black hole ingests the surrounding matter, it emits jets in opposite directions containing particles that accelerate to near the speed of light, piercing through the star and emitting X-rays and gamma rays as they travel through space.

BOAT's prompt emission
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Adam Goldstein (USRA)

Now we should know the,

Challenges in detecting a supernova associated with GRB 221009A:

The difficulty in detecting a supernova associated with Gamma-Ray Burst lies in the fact that a typically brightening supernova will accompany this type of GRB  within a few weeks. But such an event has yet to be observed. The GRB happened a few degrees above the plane of our galaxy, where massive dust clouds may block light.

Andrew Levan is a professor of astrophysics at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. He commented on the matter, stating that despite the brightness of the burst, we cannot confirm conclusively that a supernova occurred. To overcome this challenge, Levan led near- and mid-infrared observations using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope. They better penetrate dust clouds than visible light. However, if a supernova is present, it would be very faint. Despite this, astronomers plan to continue observing regions over the coming months to determine if a supernova did occur or if the entire star collapsed into a black hole without exploding. long gamma-ray burst

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight CenterYou might be wondering,

How GRB 221009A’s Afterglow Challenges Current Models of GRB Jets?

The afterglow of GRB 221009A has challenged current models of GRB jets. As the jets expand into the surrounding material, they produce a fading multiwavelength afterglow. Kate Alexander is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. He explained that the burst provided an unprecedented opportunity to test the accuracy of afterglow models. However, the observations showed a new radio component that is not fully understood, which may indicate additional structure within the jet or the need to revise the current models of how GRB jets interact with their surroundings. Despite the unexpectedly dim radio afterglow, the GRB 221009A will remain detectable for years. As it will provide an opportunity to track the full life cycle of a powerful jet.

You also might be thinking,

How does Gamma Ray Burst help Probe Distant Dust Clouds in Our Galaxy with X-ray Rings?

Astronomers were able to use GRB 221009A to probe distant dust clouds in our galaxy through the presence of X-ray rings expanding from the burst’s location. Some early X-rays rebounded off dust layers, causing “light echoes” on Earth. This allowed scientists to recreate the burst’s early X-ray emission and locate our galaxy’s dust clouds. Sergio Campana is a research director at Brera Observatory in Italy. He explained that the rings provided information on how dust clouds scatter X-rays based on their distances, the sizes of the dust grains, and the X-ray energies. GRB 221009A is only the seventh gamma-ray that burst itself to display X-ray rings. And the echoes came from dust located between 700 and 61,000 light-years away.

Lastly, the question arises,

Do Black Holes Also Return Power to the Universe?

GRB 221009A provides an opportunity to explore the question of whether black holes also return power to the universe. According to Michela Negro, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, her team used NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer to probe the dust rings and glimpse how the prompt emission was organized, which can give insights into how the jets form. The afterglow showed a tiny degree of polarization, showing that the jet was practically directly head-on. The scientists say that together with similar measurements using data from ESA’s INTEGRAL observatory, it may be possible to prove that trapping into the energy of a magnetic field the black hole’s spin has amplified the power of the BOAT’s jets. Thereby answering the question of whether black holes also return power to the universe.

Dust Rings
Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton/M. Rigoselli (INAF)


Published by: Sky Headlines