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Fraser
2004-Jun-03, 05:01 AM
SUMMARY: Combined data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Palomar 200-inch telescope have uncovered the remnant of a gamma-ray burst - one of the most powerful known explosions in the Universe - in our galactic neighborhood. W49B is a barrel-shaped nebula located 35,000 light-years from Earth. In the cosmic wreckage of the explosion, astronomers have found chemicals consistent with the collapsar model of a gamma-ray burst. In this model, a massive star forms inside a cloud of dust and gas and then becomes a black hole, creating a powerful explosion.

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antoniseb
2004-Jun-03, 11:51 AM
This is a pretty interesting story. I wish they'd give an estimate as to how long ago this explosion occured. Maybe if I find the original paper it will say more.

James Friesen
2004-Jun-04, 01:34 AM
I think I have read somewhere that huge gamma ray bursts like these might wipe out any life in nearby systems in the path of the two opposing beams of radiation. We will be fortunate if humans survive long enough to spread out into the local star cluster before an event takes place nearby and snuffs us out.

I am pretty much an atheist, but it is interesting to think of all the ways our race could perish. We seem to have some breathing room, statistically speaking, in which to develop to a point where an asteroid impact, a gamma ray burst, or some other planetary cataclysm won't spell doom for our entire race.

It almost seems as though conditions were intentionally set up in just the right way to provide strong incentives for us to 'leave the nest' and 'spread our wings.' Almost, but not quite, I still think life is just a big random event.

Greg
2004-Jun-04, 09:39 PM
Very nice discovery. Who would have thought that one of these GRB's would have in our own back yard. As far as getting wiped out by one, it would be exceedingly unlikely that one of these would be pointed our way. The axis of roataion of most objects in the galaxy is somewhat perpendicular to the galactic plane such that the radiation would be directed perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the galaxy. One of the nice advantages of a spiral galaxy.

RUF
2004-Jun-04, 11:36 PM
I saw that same NOVA TV show that speculated that GRB's could be sterilizing the universe with the radiation they disperse when they explode.
I was going to ask the same question posed earlier in this thread: could this explain why ET life is so hard to find even though life MUST be everywhere in the universe.
It was great reading this story so soon after seeing the NOVA show. I understood every single word (and I can't honestly claim to understand all the details in some releases :blink: )

I also thought the sterilization threat might just be a little "moral" that PBS and NPR always like to throw into their otherwise great shows. They seem to always put some message in the end of their shows from the environmentalist, hippie-Greenie wackos reminding us of how the environment is gonna kill us all.