The gamma ray bust

This is an artist’s concept of a gamma ray burst. I just read this new article about how a recent gamma ray burst completely made 30 years of scientific work go down the toilet.  It amazes me how little we actually know—but equally astounds me when people claim to have answers to things that they don’t. They may have theories.. observations. Hunches. Pete Spotts with the Christian Science Monitor wrote it up this way:  In October, a team led by Dong Xu, an astrophysicist at the University of Copehagen, found evidence for a stellar explosion, or supernova, at GRB 130427A’s location. The evidence pointed to a type of supernova that involves a star with at least 20 to 30 times the sun’s mass. Such stars are so large than when they finally collapse, they form black holes. In the process of collapsing, the black hole sends jets of electrons and ionized gas spiraling out along along magnetic fields forming near the black hole’s poles. These jets punch their way through the turbulent, expanding layers of material the star shed in the explosion and its prelude. And they collide with the interstellar medium – the dust and gas between stars. Collisions inside and outside the expanding layer can generate gamma rays, which tend to be focused in the direction the jets point. This makes the object an extremely bright gamma-ray beacon, if briefly, when the viewing angle is just right. Indeed, GRB 130427A “topped the charts” in the amount of gamma-ray photons it released, the energy levels some of those photons achieved, total explosion energy, and its gamma-ray brilliance, added Paul Hertz, who heads NASA’s astrophysics division in Washington. At visible wavelengths, the burst was the second brightest GRB researchers have seen. That made possible the detailed measurements that have left researchers scratching their chins. For instance, ordinarily, one might expect the gamma-ray photons with the highest energy to appear immediately following the star’s explosion, researchers say. But with GRB 130427A, some of the highest energy photons, including the new record-holder, appeared hours after the blast. “This is hard to explain with our current models,” Dermer said. In addition, gamma rays and emissions at visible wavelengths brightened and dimmed in tandem, quite unexpected because theory suggested they come from different regions of the expanding shells of material and thus should have peaked and dimmed at different times. Finally, theorists had posited different mechanisms for generating gamma rays and X-rays that are part of the light show a long-duration gamma-ray burst puts on. The result should have been a fadeout for the two forms of light punctuated by periods where emissions were interrupted. Instead, the two dimmed smoothly.  So what we thought isn’t the case.  It really never is. I do not profess to know much about gamma ray busts besides how to sometimes spell the words correctly, but I will say this:  There is a whole lot of shaking going on out there in this massive universe. While we do our daily drives to work, we complain about nonsense, and chow down on fatty fast food, a vast and immense universe is growing, expanding, and bursting at the seems. Gamma ray bursts.. multiple universes.. Endless possibilities.  Finally.. there’s something me and science agree on: We are left scratching our heads in confusion at the magnificent universe that we’re in, on this small dot planet earth.
This is an artist’s concept of a gamma ray burst.

It amazes me how little we actually know—but equally astounds me when people claim to have answers to things that they don’t. They may have theories.. observations. Hunches.
Pete Spotts with the Christian Science Monitor wrote it up this way:
In October, a team led by Dong Xu, an astrophysicist at the University of Copehagen, found evidence for a stellar explosion, or supernova, at GRB 130427A’s location. The evidence pointed to a type of supernova that involves a star with at least 20 to 30 times the sun’s mass.
Such stars are so large than when they finally collapse, they form black holes. In the process of collapsing, the black hole sends jets of electrons and ionized gas spiraling out along along magnetic fields forming near the black hole’s poles.
These jets punch their way through the turbulent, expanding layers of material the star shed in the explosion and its prelude. And they collide with the interstellar medium – the dust and gas between stars. Collisions inside and outside the expanding layer can generate gamma rays, which tend to be focused in the direction the jets point. This makes the object an extremely bright gamma-ray beacon, if briefly, when the viewing angle is just right.
Indeed, GRB 130427A “topped the charts” in the amount of gamma-ray photons it released, the energy levels some of those photons achieved, total explosion energy, and its gamma-ray brilliance, added Paul Hertz, who heads NASA’s astrophysics division in Washington. At visible wavelengths, the burst was the second brightest GRB researchers have seen.
That made possible the detailed measurements that have left researchers scratching their chins.
For instance, ordinarily, one might expect the gamma-ray photons with the highest energy to appear immediately following the star’s explosion, researchers say. But with GRB 130427A, some of the highest energy photons, including the new record-holder, appeared hours after the blast.
“This is hard to explain with our current models,” Dermer said.
In addition, gamma rays and emissions at visible wavelengths brightened and dimmed in tandem, quite unexpected because theory suggested they come from different regions of the expanding shells of material and thus should have peaked and dimmed at different times.
Finally, theorists had posited different mechanisms for generating gamma rays and X-rays that are part of the light show a long-duration gamma-ray burst puts on. The result should have been a fadeout for the two forms of light punctuated by periods where emissions were interrupted. Instead, the two dimmed smoothly.
So what we thought isn’t the case. 
It really never is.
I do not profess to know much about gamma ray busts besides how to sometimes spell the words correctly, but I will say this:  There is a whole lot of shaking going on out there in this massive universe. While we do our daily drives to work, we complain about nonsense, and chow down on fatty fast food, a vast and immense universe is growing, expanding, and bursting at the seems.
Gamma ray bursts.. multiple universes.. Endless possibilities. 
Finally.. there’s something me and science agree on: We are left scratching our heads in confusion at the magnificent universe that we’re in, on this small dot planet earth.

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