Washington: In a cosmic first, researchers have observed the most powerful and luminous yet known energy release — a trillion times more energetic than visible light —in the brightest type of electromagnetic events known to occur in the universe called gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). The study, published in the journal Nature, noted that the very high energy cosmic emission had been predicted earlier in theoretical studies, and thought to originate from collapsing stars or from the merging of two dying stars, but never directly observed until now.
The researchers, including those from George Washington University in the US, detected a burst on January 14 labelled GRB 190114C which led to a collaborative effort to observe the radiation coming from the source using more than 20 observatories and instruments around the world.
The researchers found that this particular burst originated from a very dense environment in the middle of a bright galaxy at a distance that would take light 5 billion years to travel. “After over 45 years of observing GRBs, we just confirmed the existence of yet another unknown component in their afterglows, which increases the gamma-ray burst overall energy budget dramatically,” said study co-author Chryssa Kouveliotou, a professor of physics at George Washington University.