Skip to comments.Star explodes halfway across universe (NASA's Swift detects star's GRB; reached Earth early Wed.)
Posted on 03/21/2008 4:07:07 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - The explosion of a star halfway across the universe was so huge it set a record for the most distant object that could be seen on Earth by the naked eye.
The aging star, in a previously unknown galaxy, exploded in a gamma ray burst 7.5 billion light years away, its light finally reaching Earth early Wednesday.
The gamma rays were detected by NASA's Swift satellite at 2:12 a.m. "We'd never seen one before so bright and at such a distance," NASA's Neil Gehrels said. It was bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
However, NASA has no reports that any skywatchers spotted the burst, which lasted less than an hour. Telescopic measurements show that the burst which occurred when the universe was about half its current age was bright enough to be seen without a telescope.
"Someone would have had to run out and look at it with a naked eye, but didn't," said Gehrels, chief of NASA's astroparticles physics lab at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The starburst would have appeared as bright as some of the stars in the handle of the Little Dipper constellation, said Penn State University astronomer David Burrows. How it looked wasn't remarkable, but the distance traveled was.
The 7.5 billion light years away far eclipses the previous naked eye record of 2.5 million light years. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles.
"This is roughly halfway to the edge of the universe," Burrows said.
Before it exploded, the star was about 40 times bigger than our sun. The explosion vaporized any planet nearby, Gehrels said.
NASA’s Swift satellite
The extremely luminous afterglow of GRB 080319B was imaged by
Swift's X-ray Telescope (left) and Optical/Ultraviolet Telescope (right).
This was by far the brightest gamma-ray burst afterglow ever seen.
Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler, et al.
NASA Satellite Detects Naked-Eye Explosion Halfway Across Universe
Sounds like 3rd or 4th magnitude, which would have been washed out by city lights here.
A light year is 5,865,696,000,000 miles
Times 7,500,000,000 = Miles to event.
My calculator just died.
Imagine all he civilizations that have come and gone over the 15 billion year history of the universe.
Earth is 5 billion years old. Just imagine what all has happened during those 10 billions years that came before us.
Kinda humbles ya a little bit don’t it??
**The explosion vaporized any planet nearby, Gehrels said.**
Damn, I wait 7.5 billion years for this, and I’m in the can when it happens.
So that’s what I felt. :)
Bush’s fault, of course
Not to sound like a ditz, but does this mean that this happened 7.5 billion years ago and we are just able to see it now?
No wonder it’s taking Voyager so long to get home.
With the current lack of sunspots, we could use all the GRB we can get.
It was warm Wednesday. Here, anyway.
Sounds like a real monster. It probably destroyed whatever life was present in that galaxy, at least the ones in its “aim”.
OK. I admit my ignorance. How do you see gamma rays with your naked eyes?
Well, according to Dr. Hugh Ross, life on any planet like earth is going to be an extremely, hugemongously rare, twinkletoes rare thing and the universe has been able to produce an inhabitable by ‘intelligent seekers’ earth only in recent times, give or take a billion years or less. You might enjoy a trek through ‘reasontobelieve.org’ ... look for the 10/31/99 lecture under the radio and lecture category. Not many galaxies could sustain the changes necessary to reach our state of solar system on the periphery of a spiral arm and just above the plane enough to ‘see’ the rest of the scene. Until the mass of the universe became dispersed sufficiently, a solar system like ours couldn’t exist ‘quietly enough’ to raise intelligent life. Until the vast majority of elements like metals were fabricated via exploding stars, our level of life could not have been formed. ETC
That website is ‘reasons.org’ ... the interviews and lectures category is what you want. Lots of great listening material. ‘bethinking.org’ is another site with a science category that will entertain you and educate in the process.
Oh, and just as an aside, the gamma ray burst from that star would have sterilized most of that ‘unknown’ galaxy.
Now, do you (still?) think it's taken a bit longer than 6,000 years for us to be where we are?
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
That's us, just over half way down in the yellow beam, the nondescript brighter dot that just barely stands out of the white noise.
I see it!
DIRECT to the Moon , Mars and beyond. I'm a Canadian, so I can't do anything except promote DIRECT to people that can call their congress critters and get something done.
Heh. I wonder if NASA was fooling around with their headline??? Those “naked eye explosions” have gotta hurt.
Pearls are rare but they are plentiful.
Consider 100 billion galaxies each with a 100 billion stars and each galaxy with trillion planets then a few million inhapitbale planets is to be expected.
Some people just don’t want to consider the possblites.
So what I am saying is that out of 100 billion trillion worlds what % have to have life for it to be “plentiful”?
We are 100 years away from going to the stars. Think about those that went to the stars a billion years ago, million years ago, thousand years ago.
People like Ross can’t accept the truth because of their egos.
BTW, what makes people think these advanced civilization even use radio waves that would reach us now. They could have passed by 100 years ago and gone undetected or are still a millions away from getting here.
It became popular to use statistics (the Drake equation), without applied science, and the notion that the odds are in favor of life popping up all over the universe was popularized. Applying science methods to 'false' the statistical vagaries leads to a very different set of conclusions.
Here's one factor --merely one of more than a hundred factors-- about the fundamental necessities for life to arise and reach multicellular expression and eventually intelligent life investigating the universe: that star which exploded half way across the universe likely ended whatever cycle was leading to life evolving on any planet in that galaxy where the star arose; but the galaxy where that star existed was not likely to have been a suitable galaxy for the rise of life conditions on any planet around any star in that galaxy because the 'star formation/generation/demise' process was too violent that many billions of years ago in any galaxy generating such massive, short-lived stars, and those conditions were the norm for the universe of that far back in time; it was those violent rapid star generator galaxies which eventually seeded the galaxies with sufficient heavier elements to sustain the processes for generating life.
Put that notion together with the distances galaxies were apart back when that galaxy generated that now exploded star, and you see that the violence of the universe 'back then' was such that life sustaining planets with 500 million year 'quiet periods' without massive gamma ray bombardments was not likely, not even predictable.
Please, before poo pooing the work of folks at reasons.org go and do some reading and listening. Dr. Ross has several books now available to help you along in this discovery process. I can tell you, the information was an eye opener for me.
Dr Ross is an astrophysicist. Perhaps what you have not plugged into your calculus is the very narrow window of conditions (and timing is a major factor) necessary for higher life forms to develop on a planet with rudimentary life on it, and to go to the level of contemplative life (intelligent seekers) is even more astonishing. It became popular to use statistics (the Drake equation), without applied science, and the notion that the odds are in favor of life popping up all over the universe was popularized. Applying science methods to 'false' the statistical vagaries leads to a very different set of conclusionsSo, statistics are okay to use as long as conclusion is that the odds of life are vanishingly low? I don't look to astrophysicists regarding the likelihood of life's arising. Nor did I bring it up.
The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes:
Flood, Fire, and Famine
in the History of Civilization
by Richard Firestone,
Allen West, and
That the future maybe even current heaven will be a tangible expanded experience of the "Garden of Eden".. Except the the real Garden is so big the human mind csnnot rightly concieve of it.. Populating this planet is and has been one thing fraught with precious experience of what not to do.. So that populating the Universe can done with minimun error..
As spirits maybe we can move thru the Universe much faster than "light".. and monitor and guide cultures thru periods fraught is all kinds of possible errors.. What cultures?.. Cultures not even created yet.. Cultures not hampered by Satan but guided by beneficial spirits instead.. All kinds of creatures both untelligent and not.. Evolving to and though spiritual growth then they can be added as spiritual monitors also, some of them..
Why such a big Universe?.. That may be what "heaven" is all about.. Not a fixing of mans errors but a continuation of the grand plan.. You know, "BE fruitful and multiply".. On a scale that beggars description.. Humans usually have such small eyes.. for observation..
The universe was not created to put life on but one world.
The universe is teeming with life. Life is as much a part of the “physics” of the universe as heat, ligth, gravity.
Life is the reason for the universe to exist.
Ross just won’t let his ego get out of the way of common sense.
BTW, Heaven is a myth as is Hell.
Dr. Ross appears to have started with a survey of what must be the conditions and for how long in order that life arise and advance to the stage of intelligently surveying the universe around the planet upon which that intelligence arose. From one perspective, it is sort of like the Drake Equation was conceived for a box of "S" size, while ignoring that the "S" size was not constant. That box size dramatically effects the fundamental conditions required for a 'long enough quiet period' so that life evolves to the level of intelligence. Hey, the whole notion of intelligent life taking more than 500 million years to emerge may even be erroneous. It took that long on this planet, but can we apply the process fundamentals to other planets? We assume we can, for contemplation purposes. Given a consistency of temporal conditions (time is neither expanding or contracting), the changes to the universe, the environment, the biochemical processes, all these other variables were mostly ignored in the Drake Equation.
I would love to buy your supper someday and sit talking over these things! I have a feeling there are ‘coincident’ points of agreement we would find.
I have read a lot of stuff like what Ross puts out. For one thing Ross does not even know what life is. How it got started. What makes it tick.
What Ross doesn’t consider is that Life is a part of the very fabric of the Universe. That Life is a natural and normal occurance.
For someone to make assumptions as he does about something he doesn’t even comprehend is pretty silly don’t you think??
4.399272e+22 miles, or, in common parlance, ~40,000 billion billion miles away.
You have a nice day.
WOW ...my little brain can't comprehend that distance.
Yeah, it’s pretty much incomprehensible for any sized brain. Scientific notation cures this somewhat, at least it standardizes all measurements for the purposes of mathematics, but there’s no way any human could “relate” to such a distance.
You calculate using “e” and then talk about incomprehensible? I love Freerepublic. The poster family is so darn well educated and yet remain so humble. No, really, I love it!
My understanding of this type of event, admittedly not great, is that the burst is somewhat directional. Not a focused beam, but not equal in every direction either. Can you elucidate?
The problem with your assumptions is that as much as we profess to, we don’t KNOW what conditions life needs to exist. We have one single solitary data point. We now know that planets seem to be relatively common. But our current methods can’t do much more than give us a probability cloud of their orbit around their home star, let alone exact masses and surface conditions.
What we need to do is actually get more data. We need higher resolution telescopes, and unmanned missions to all stars within 10 light years. In order to do that we need a proof of concept of various advanced propulsion technologies, such as the Bussard Ramjet. Not to mention fusion rockets (without the ramjet) and various other high specific impulse methods.
I’m going to have to scan the chart in my copy of Space Propulsion Analysis and Design, but basically if you have a high enough specific impulse rocket, you can have the first data from Alpha Centauri within 15 years, accelerating at 0.1g for 5 years, before decelerating at 0.1g for the same amount of time. Using the same scheme, we can have data from Tau Ceti (11.8 light years distant) at 38 years from launch.
Between the distances of Alpha Centauri and Tau Ceti, there are 17 known star systems. Quite a few of which are known to have planets. So we need 19 probes with the same capability and we have mission durations from 15 to 38 years. Probably up to 50 if you want a decent amount of data from each probe.
A few issues that need to be taken care of:
1) NASA needs to get over it’s fear of launching a mission in multiple parts.
2) The US public has to support this.
3) The US government has to agree with the people.
4) A few minor technical hurdles need to be cleared.
If we don’t find evidence of Earth-like planets within 11.8 light years, well I still wouldn’t be convinced that life is all that rare. Life doesn’t have to look, act, or exist like it does here on Earth. This is just one of at least two possible conditions of life.
Now we get in to the possibilities of silicon-based life forms...that gets interesting.
my brain is asking
“how do they know that this is ‘halfway’ across the universe”
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