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Brightest light ever observed fascinates astronomers


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Astronomers have observed the brightest flash of light ever seen, emitted at a distance of 2.4 billion light-years from Earth and supposedly caused by the birth of a black hole.

This burst of gamma rays, the most intense form of electromagnetic radiation, was captured for the first time by Earth-orbiting telescopes on the 9th. Its residual light continues to be studied by scientists around the world.

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Scientists say they believe these bursts, which last several minutes, are caused by the death of giant stars, more than 30 times the size of the Sun, astrophysicist Brendan O’Connor told AFP.

The star explodes and becomes a supernova, before collapsing to form a black hole. The matter then forms a disk around the black hole, is absorbed and released as energy traveling at 99.99% the speed of light.

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The flash released photons with a record 18 teraelectron volts of energy and impacted long-wave communications in the Earth’s atmosphere.

“It’s breaking records, both in the number of photons and in the energy of the photons that reach us,” said O’Connor, who made new observations of the phenomenon this Friday (14) with infrared instruments at the Gemini South telescope in Chile.

“Something so bright, so close, is really a once-in-a-century event,” added the astrophysicist. “Gamma-ray bursts generally release in a matter of seconds the same amount of energy that our Sun has produced or will produce in its entire lifetime, and this event is the brightest gamma-ray burst.”

The explosion, called GRB221009A, was observed Sunday morning (East Coast time) by several telescopes, including those at NASA.

O’Connor, affiliated with the University of Maryland and George Washington, will continue to look at supernova signatures in optical and infrared wavelengths to confirm that his hypotheses about the origins of the flash are correct.

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