Daily Roundup: The Mars Curse and the Biggest Explosion in the Universe!

The largest ever gamma ray burst observed. Image credit: NASA

This week has been an exciting week for astronomers. The largest explosion ever seen in the Universe was observed on Wednesday. This gamma ray burst, produced when a star collapses in on itself to create a black hole, is a record breaker. Not only is it the biggest explosion mankind has seen since records began, it is also the furthest and oldest “thing” we have ever observed…

Gamma ray bursts are the largest explosions to occur in the Universe since the Big Bang itself. As the matter from a massive star collapses through intense gravitational forces, the shock wave produced superheats the surrounding gas and dust. What happens next is the biggest firework possible, as the black hole is created, vast amounts of energy is blasted from the poles of the collapsed star. Anything in the path of these columns of energy are vaporized in an instant. Local space for many light years can be strongly affected.

The gamma ray burst.

This explosion is located 7.5 billion light years away. As it took the light from the explosion 7.5 billion years to get here, the explosion happened 7.5 billion years ago. As the Universe is about 14 billion years old, this gamma ray burst happened when the Universe was half the age it is now. This is a significant event on so many levels.

After the discovery by NASA’s Swift observatory, other ground-based observatories have been scouring their data in the hope that they captured the explosion, visible to the naked eye. Sure enough, an observatory in Chile has captured a video of the event, giving us a chance to see what a gamma ray burst looks like

In other news… I look at the “Mars Curse” and pretty much sum up that it isn’t likely that a “Galactic Ghoul” is out there eating our robotic space explorers, it’s more down to technological error and cock-ups

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