Friday, March 21, 2008

"Naked-eye Gamma Ray Burst" becomes mainstream knowledge

1 1/2 days after the event NASA has finally reacted with a Press Release to its satellite's success: "NASA Satellite Detects Record Gamma Ray Burst Explosion Halfway Across Universe". The story stresses that "the Very Large Telescope in Chile and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Texas measured the burst's redshift at 0.94. [...] A redshift of 0.94 translates into a distance of 7.5 billion light years, meaning the explosion took place 7.5 billion years ago, a time when the universe was less than half its current age and Earth had yet to form. This is more than halfway across the visible universe."

Records, records: "No other known object or type of explosion could be seen by the naked eye at such an immense distance," and "GRB 080319B's optical afterglow was 2.5 million times more luminous than the most luminous supernova ever recorded, making it the most intrinsically bright object ever observed by humans in the universe." Observing reports are still streaming in, though the afterglow - imaged at 19th mag. later on the 19th by Finnish amateurs - of the remarkable GRB has now dropped to below 20th mag.

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