November 28, 2022

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Death of a star shakes Earth's atmosphere

Death of a star shakes Earth’s atmosphere

In early October, a wave of radiation from a gamma-ray burst swept across our planet. How did the death of a distant star affect the Earth’s atmosphere?

The death of a star nearby … means in the cosmic sense

The gamma ray burst and the resulting radiation wave are traces of the death of a very massive star. It is undoubtedly One of the most disastrous and violent events that can be found in space, unleashing both the creative and destructive potential of an entire star in an instant. The remnants of such a cosmic catastrophe at the beginning of October spilled over the solar system and flooded our planet with gamma rays (but it is unlikely to threaten any of us in the case of slackening and turning to the Hulk). This explosion was named GRB 221009A.

Scientists, like scientists, could not leave it and investigate the matter as quickly as possible. Now we have the results of their findings. Well, the source of this most powerful glow observed so far was the closest so far recorded in our cosmic neighborhood. Event Only two billion light years from Earth (Observable by our universe is 92 billion light-years across, so 2 billion is actually very close)

The flare very close to us was easily detected by an entire fleet of observatories in Earth’s orbit and by those at the surface. The data collected by them will be analyzed for a long time, providing astronomers and meteorologists with valuable scientific knowledge. The flicker emitted by X-rays and gamma rays was so intense that it could be seen even through amateur telescopes.

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One image after the flash from the Neil Gehrells Swift Observatory (Source: University of Leicester)

gamma rays

Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) quickly emit first-order radioactive pulses. The amount of energy it emits is equal to that which our Sun has been able to produce in its lifetime, and all this potential is released within a few thousandths of a second to several hours.

A flare occurs when a massive star explodes as a supernova, transforming into a neutron star, quark, or black hole. In such a case we are dealing with a long-lasting flicker, lasting for minutes or even hours. In contrast, short bursts, observed for seconds or fractions of them, usually come from the collision of two extremely dense neutron stars. Such an effect usually results in the release of a wave of energy into space.

Impact on the weather

Astrophysicist Rami Mando drew attention to the effect of the glow on the Earth’s atmosphere. It turns out that lightning detectors in India and Germany indicated that the way electromagnetic pulses are generated from lightning discharges completely changed when GRB energy was spilled on our planet. This explosion rapidly shredded electrons from the parent atoms, altering conditions in the upper atmosphere. So the physical effect of glare on our atmosphere is undeniable, but fortunately these changes are insignificant and short-lived.

What else can we discover?

The fact that the supernova explosion happened so soon gives astronomers great opportunities. Normally, the light from such a glow is not bright enough to allow a detailed investigation of the details of the cosmic event that caused it. This time, scientists will be able to better understand the conditions surrounding the dying star and think about the extremely complex nature of its physical processes.

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Light studies recorded by observatories will allow us to better understand the Milky Way. Various cosmic bodies, such as dust clouds, illuminated by the GRB, which gave us an excellent field of observation, stood in the way of the explosion. This research will continue for a long time, and we look forward to hearing what cosmic mysteries will be able to decipher thanks to the observation of GRB 221009A.

Source: scientificamerican.com