Cominsky, Lynn Department of Physics and Astronomy, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California.
- History of observations
- Observational properties
- Possible origins
- Important recent observations of individual GRBs
- Other phenomena
- Present and future studies
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Gamma-ray bursts are short cosmic blasts of very-high-energy electromagnetic radiation (gamma radiation) that are recorded at an average of about once per day by detectors placed above the Earth's atmosphere. At distances of billions of light-years, the energy emitted in a gamma-ray burst (GRB) is more than a billion billion (1018) times the energy emitted each second by the Sun. The mechanism for the origin of gamma-ray bursts remains a focus of current research. Gamma-ray bursts longer than 2 s appear to be associated with the supernova explosions of massive stars in distant galaxies. Recent evidence suggests that shorter gamma-ray bursts are likely the result of merging neutron stars or black holes, although other explanations are also possible. There are indications that both types of gamma-ray bursts lead to the birth of black holes.
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