An unusual stellar explosion observed on April 27, 2013 by NASA’s Swift satellite is the brightest gamma-ray burst (GRB) ever recorded, says a multinational team of astronomers.
Optical afterglow of GRB 130427A. Image credit: J. Mats / H. Lars / H. Patrik.
The event, labeled GRB 130427A, produced a jet of matter moving close to the speed of light, which was formed when a massive star collapsed to make a black hole at its center. As a result, a blast wave caused the rest of the star to expand outwards, producing a glowing shell of debris observed as an extremely bright supernova.
GRB 130427A happened in a galaxy a quarter of the way across the Universe. Although far away, this is much closer than a typical GRB allowing astronomers to confirm for the first time that the same object can simultaneously create both a powerful GRB and a supernovae.
“We normally detect GRBs at great distance, meaning they usually appear quite faint. In this case the burst happened only a quarter of the way across the Universe meaning it was very bright. On this occasion, a powerful supernova was also produced, something we have not recorded before alongside a Read more…
This is frightening. Nature just published a study by astronomers who have reanalyzed and recalculated the estimate of asteroids that could hit Earth and it’s a lot worse than we thought. Ten times worse.
As in, researchers are now saying we are 10 times more likely to get struck by an asteroid than before. As in, scientists are saying we need to improve our early warning systems. As in, yikes.
Here’s the thing. Researchers have always had a fairly decent track record in spotting humungous asteroids that might hit Earth. That’s because NASA previously only looked for space rock 100 feet wide and bigger. But in the aftermath of the meteorite that exploded over Russia, they’re beginning to realize that smaller asteroids are still insanely powerful and damaging and desperately need to be kept track of too.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected a new kind of stellar blast called a kilonova that’s about 1,000 times brighter than a regular nova.
A kilonova happens when a pair of compact objects such as neutron stars crash together. Hubble observed the fading fireball from a kilonova last month, following a short gamma ray burst (GRB) in a galaxy almost 4 billion light-years from Earth.
In the image at left, the galaxy in the center produced the gamma-ray burst, designated GRB 130603B. The galaxy resides almost 4 billion light-years away. A probe of the galaxy with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on June 13, 2013, revealed a glow in near-infrared light at the source of the gamma-ray burst, shown in the Read more…
Comet Pan-STARRS, which is currently dazzling the night skies in the southern hemisphere, will reach its closest approach to the Earth today, and within the next few days, it will climb above the western horizon for those living in the northern hemisphere.
Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) was discovered in June 2011 using the University of Hawaii’s Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS). Astronomers initially predicted that it would be a very bright comet, but up until last week, it was falling well short of expectations. However, as Pan-STARRS flew past the orbit of Mercury, it brightened significantly, finally living up to the astronomer’s hopes.
The comet became visible Read more…
A newly discovered asteroid the size of a football field will cruise through Earth’s neighborhood this weekend, just days after another space rock made an even closer approach to our planet.
The 330-foot-wide (100 meters) asteroid 2013 ET will miss Earth by 600,000 miles (960,000 kilometers) when it zips by on Saturday (March 9). The space rock flyby will come just days after the 33-foot (10 m) asteroid 2013 EC approached within 230,000 miles (370,000 km) of us early Monday (March 4).
When asteroid 2013 ET passes Earth, it will be at a range equivalent to 2.5 times the distance between the planet and the moon, making it too faint and far away for most stargazers to spot in the night sky. But the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, will webcast a live telescope view of the space rock’s flyby on Friday (March 8), beginning at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). You can access the free broadcast here: http://www.astrowebtv.org.
There is no danger that 2013 ET will hit Earth, researchers say, just as 2013 EC posed no threat. But their flybys are slightly Read more…
A newly found asteroid, 2013 EC can be seen in the lower left corner of the red box in this image. Screen capture from Virtual Telescope webcast on 3/3/2013.
A newly found asteroid will pass just inside the orbit of the Moon, with its closest approach on March 4, 2013 at 07:35 UTC. Named 2013 EC, the asteroid is about the size of the space rock that exploded over Russia two and a half weeks ago, somewhere between 10-17 meters wide. The asteroid that sparked the Russian meteor is estimated to have been about 17 meters wide when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
2013 EC was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Observatory in Arizona on March 2. There is no chance this asteroid will hit Earth.
2013 EC will come within 396,000 kilometers from Earth, (246,000 miles, or around 1.0 lunar distances, 0.0026 AU.
The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies between Read more…
Night turned briefly into day over a wide area in California and Nevada at 5:21:44 a.m. PST on Thursday morning January 17th, creating hopes of another extraterrestrial surprise delivery of meteorites, but this bright fireball did not drop meteorites on the ground. This was a head-on collision with a small perhaps 1-meter sized comet, rather than the glancing blow of a stronger asteroid. The comet matter was almost instantly turned into dust and gas.
Sunnyvale record of the January 17 fireball. The beginning of the meteor trajectory is visible right of the bright flash that originated well below the field of view.
The fireball that lit up the predawn Northern California sky in late January was a small comet that hit Earth head-on when Read more…
An asteroid will come close to the earth on February 15, according to Birla Science Centre here.
“This is the first near-earth asteroid to pass so close to the earth”, said B M Birla Science Centre Director Dr B G Sidharth said in a release here.
The asteroid ’2012 DA 14′ measures about 50 metres and would swoop to about 27,000 km near earth or roughly about one tenth the distance to moon, he said.