Astronomers have captured an astonishing collision between two stars as large flashes of gamma rays

Colliding stars captured by gamma rays

The universe is so vast and incredible that not only with space telescopes it is possible to photograph its wonders and the great events that are taking place. An example of this was An incredible struggle between two stars in which she was photographed An epic collision.

The images were taken by scientists at the Atacama Large Millimeter/ Submillimeter Telescope. matrix array (spirit). for the first time A research team has detected light with millimeter wavelengths coming from a powerful explosion caused by the merger of a neutron star with another star.

The team confirmed that it is Wamda gamma rays The most energetic and shortest-lived of all, also leaving behind one of the brightest auroras ever. Results of this search Publish in the magazine Astrophysical Journal Letters. The data could help scientists learn more about these extreme events and their impact on the space around them.

For the first time, a research team has detected light with millimeter wavelengths caused by a powerful explosion caused by the merger of a neutron star with another.

This short burst of gamma rays was the first time we had attempted to observe such an event using ALMA.said physicist Wen Fei Fong of Northwestern University. “The afterglow of short bursts is very difficult to find, so it was amazing to capture this very glowing event. After many years of observing these eruptions, this surprising discovery opens up a new field of study, as it motivates us to observe many of them using ALMA and other telescope arrays at future,” he added.

Gamma ray bursts are the most powerful known in the universe. In just 10 seconds, a gamma-ray burst can emit more energy than a star like the Sun in 10 billion years..

The imaged star GRB 211106A belongs to a subclass of flares known as short-lived gamma-ray flares. These explosions, which the scientific community credits with creating the heaviest elements in the universe such as platinum and gold, are the result of a violent merger of binary star systems containing a neutron star. These mergers occur due to the effect of gravitational wave radiation that removes energy from the orbit of binary stars. In this way, the stars get close to each other and end up colliding. In turn, the resulting explosion emits jets at speeds close to the speed of light. When one of these jets is emitted in the direction of Earth, we observe a short gamma-ray pulse.”explains Tanmoy Laskar, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah.

The captured star GRB 211106A belongs to a subclass of flashes known as short-lived gamma-ray flashes (REUTERS/Rodrigo Gutierrez/File Photo)
The captured star GRB 211106A belongs to a subclass of flashes known as short-lived gamma-ray flashes (REUTERS/Rodrigo Gutierrez/File Photo)

These flashes usually last a few tenths of a second. The science team then looked for signs of afterglow, a phenomenon caused by the interaction of the jets with surrounding gas. Short-range gamma-ray flashes are difficult to detect, So far only half a dozen of them have been observed in lengths radio waveNone of them were detected at millimeter wavelengths. Laskar, who led the research while he was a Distinguished Fellow at Radboud University in the Netherlands, explains that The difficulty lies in the great distance that separates us from gamma-ray flashes and the technological ability of telescopes. “Although short-lived gamma-ray flashes are very bright and vibrant, these flashes occur in very distant galaxies, so the light they emit can be quite faint for ground-based telescopes. Prior to ALMA, millimeter telescopes were not sensitive enough to detect Later Twilight.”

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Gamma-ray flash 211106A, detected about 20 billion light years From the ground, the same challenge poses. The light emitted by the light is so faint that although NASA’s Neil Gehrells Swift observatory detected the explosion in X-rays, it was impossible to detect the host galaxy at this wavelength, and the scientific community has not been able to determine its exact source. came. “The residual luminosity is necessary to determine which galaxy the flash is coming from and to better understand the phenomenon itself. At first, when only X-ray observations were made, the scientific community believed that this flash could come from a nearby galaxy,” says Tanmu Laskar, who He adds that the large amount of dust present in the area also made it difficult to detect. The object in optical observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope.

“These explosions occur in distant galaxies, which means that their light may be quite faint for our telescopes on Earth.” Laskar explainedBefore ALMA, millimeter telescopes were not sensitive enough to detect these auroras.“, he added.

The science team then looked for signs of afterglow, a phenomenon caused by the interaction of the jets with surrounding gas.  Short-lived gamma-ray flashes are difficult to detect (Reuters)
The science team then looked for signs of afterglow, a phenomenon caused by the interaction of the jets with surrounding gas. Short-lived gamma-ray flashes are difficult to detect (Reuters)

Because this particular event, called GRB 211106A, was so far away, it could not be detected by current gravitational wave astronomy instruments. “ALMA’s unparalleled sensitivity allowed us to locate a GRB in this field with greater accuracy, and it turned out to be in another faint galaxy, far beyond.. This, in turn, means that this short-lived gamma-ray burst is more powerful than we initially thought, making it one of the brightest and most energetic of all.”

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When neutron stars collide, the result is startling: an explosion accompanied by jets of material blasting outward at a large fraction of the speed of light.. If we’re lucky, these jets are oriented in such a way that one is more or less heading towards us, so we see the eruption as a gamma-ray burst.

Millimeter wavelength observations allowed the researchers to measure some key properties of GRB 211106A; It is the plane’s opening angle, which can be used to infer SGRB rates in the universe, and a more accurate measurement of GRB energy. “Millimeter wavelengths can tell us about the density of the environment around the GRB,” said astronomer Genevieve Schroeder of Northwestern University.

When neutron stars collide, the result is startling: an explosion accompanied by jets of material blasting outward at a large fraction of the speed of light.
When neutron stars collide, the result is startling: an explosion accompanied by jets of material blasting outward at a large fraction of the speed of light.

And when combined with X-rays, they can tell us the true energy of the explosion. Because the emission can be detected at millimeter wavelengths longer than X-rays, millimeter emission can also be used to determine the width of a GRB jet.”

The researchers found that GRB 211106A has some unusual properties, both in its host galaxy and in its energy profile. Ultimately, this suggests that there is a greater diversity in the characteristics of SGRBs than is currently seen, implying that continuous monitoring and classification of these events is warranted. So while this may be the first stepping stone in these incredible eruptions, it’s unlikely to be the last.

ALMA breaks the playing field in terms of its capabilities at millimeter wavelengths and has allowed us to see the faint, dynamic universe in this kind of light for the first time. After a decade of brief observation of GRBs, it is truly amazing to witness the power of using these new technologies to uncover surprising gifts from the universe.”

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Lovell Loxley

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