Astronomers Just Detected What May Be The Most Powerful Flash Of Light Ever Seen

Scientists have discovered an “unprecedented” outburst of energy in space known as a gamma-ray burst (GRB), which looks brighter at some wavelengths than any previous occurrence of the sort.

Gamma-ray bursts are massive eruptions caused by strong cosmic occurrences, such as the death of massive stars, and can generate some of the brightest displays in the cosmos. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, both NASA projects, detected the burst on Sunday, spreading quickly on social media.

“Brightest GRB ever just dropped,” University of Alabama astrophysicist Marcos Santander tweeted.

In a tweet on Monday, Phil Evans, an astronomer at the University of Leicester who works on Swift’s X-ray instrument, described the burst as “stupidly really bright.”

Evans said it would take some time to fully understand the discovery’s implications, adding that it is “certainly the brightest GRB we’ve seen in X-rays, at least at the time after the initial explosion that we’ve observed it.”

“The new GRB 221009A is something around 1,000 times brighter than the typical GRB and a few hundred times brighter than the brightest ones seen before—but this is only true in X-rays,” Evans said.

“In gamma-rays, it is one of the brightest seen (according to the report from the Fermi telescope team).”

Given its astounding brightness and origin, Evans and many other scientists will observe GRB 221009A’s evolution as it fades into lower-energy light forms.

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