1,000 and Counting
After nearly 11 years in space, NASA's Swift spacecraft detected its 1,000th gamma-ray burst (GRB) on October 27, 2015. Astronomers classify GRBs by their duration, as the blast of high-energy light often lasts a minute or less. The October 27 event, dubbed GRB 151027B, is of the "long" variety, where the gamma-ray pulse lasts more than two seconds. They are believed to occur in a massive star whose core has run out of fuel and collapsed into a black hole. As matter falls toward the newly formed black hole, it launches jets of subatomic particles that move out through the star's outer layers at nearly the speed of light. When the particle jets reach the stellar surface, they emit gamma rays, the most energetic form of light. In many cases, the star is later seen to explode as a supernova. Explore the images to learn more.
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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover image courtesy of NASA/Swift/Cruz deWilde
GRB 151027B image courtesy of NASA/Swift/E. Troja
Swift GRB map courtesy of NASA/GSFC/2MASS/J. Carpenter, T. H. Jarrett, R. Hurt