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Gamma-Ray Burst 050525a
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Gamma-Ray Burst 050525a

January 23, 2006
Heat generated from a gamma-ray burst has been detected for the first time by a team of astronomers led by University of Notre Dame physicist Peter Garnavich.

Spitzer looked at "GRB 050525a" (named by the date it was discovered, May 25, 2005) with all three of its detectors May 27, just two days after the burst was identified by Swift, another NASA satellite designed to study GRB from gamma-ray wavelengths to visible light.

The light from gamma-ray burst afterglows fades quickly, so Spitzer had to move fast to catch the burst before it disappeared from view.

Gamma-ray bursts are huge blasts of energy visible across large distances in the universe. Research by the same team in 2003 showed that some gamma-ray bursts come from the death of massive stars in a supernova explosion. The explosion is signaled by a short burst of gamma-rays that are then often accompanied by an afterglow of light, X-rays and radio waves which last for just a few hours to a few days. The spasms of light burn with the brilliance of 10 billion suns as a narrow jet of particles, traveling nearly at the speed of light, runs into slow gas surrounding the star.


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