Clash of galaxies produces the most powerful gamma-ray burst ever

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are some of the highest-energy phenomena in the Universe, and recently astronomers have been able to register a gamma-ray burst, whose power is approximately a thousand times greater than the power of ordinary “average” such bursts. Usually gamma-ray bursts are generated at the moments of supernova explosions, when the stars that have come to the end of their life cycle turn into black holes or neutron stars, ejecting into the surrounding space oceans of energy in the form of radiation and plasma flying at a speed close to the speed of light.

The energy of gamma-ray bursts is measured in electron volts. Conventional gamma-ray bursts have an energy of several tens of gigaelectron-volts, but the energy of the most powerful flash is about one tera-electron-volt. “Teraelectron-volt gamma-ray bursts previously existed only in theory,” says Masahiro Teshima, lead researcher, “We have been hunting for the strongest flashes for 15 years, and finally luck smiled at us. I and my members the teams are proud to announce the registration of the first gamma-ray burst with an energy of 1 TeV, the photons of which are the highest-energy photons born in the depths of space. ”

The gamma-ray under consideration was called GRB190114C and was first recorded in January of this year by two space telescopes – the Swift Observatory and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Note that the GRB190114C flare itself consisted of several successive flashes, the very first of which was rather weak, its energy was in the region of several megaelectron-volts (MeV).

Nevertheless, the registration of the first flare became a signal by which the “eyes” of 20 astronomical instruments were immediately aimed at this area of ​​space, which managed to see the beauty of the cosmic fireworks. A subsequent outbreak occurred approximately one minute after the first and lasted about 20 minutes. Its brightness exceeded the brightness of the Crab Nebula, which was previously considered the brightest of all known sources of gamma and x-ray radiation in our galaxy. At the peak of the flash intensity, its energy reached 1 TeV, then decreased to 0.3 TeV, which is also quite a lot, and this level remained unchanged for a rather long time.

One of the astronomical instruments that observed the flare region of GRB190114C was the Hubble Space Telescope. He is not able to “see” gamma rays, but with his help you can determine the distance to the place of events and find out the nature of the cataclysm that generated such a high-energy phenomenon. And thanks to the Hubble telescope, scientists learned that the GRB190114C flare was generated in the bowels of a galaxy that is in the process of colliding with another galaxy.

“Hubble telescope observations showed that the flare originated in a very” dense “environment, almost in the center of a very bright galaxy, located 5 billion light-years from us,” says Andrew Levan, one of the leading researchers, – “Nature this outbreak is very unusual, we assume that a collision of galaxies caused a kind of chain reaction, as a result of which a sufficiently large volume of space densely filled with matter exploded, which produced exceptionally bright light and gamma radiation”.