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October 27, 2005

JCA Researcher Helps Unveil Origins of Powerful Cosmic Explosions

John Cannizzo, an associate research scientist with UMBC’s Joint Center for Astrophysics was part of a global team who recently unveiled some secrets of a little understood, powerful cosmic explosion in the prestigious journal Nature.

Cannizzo was one of an international team of nearly 80 astrophysicists who co-authored a paper entitled “A short γ-ray burst apparently associated with an elliptical galaxy at redshift z=0.225” published in the Oct. 6, 2005 issue of Nature. The lead of the paper’s 77 authors was N.Gehrels of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The paper looked at the lesser-understood of the two types of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), known as ‘short and hard’ GRBs. Longer duration GRBs are less powerful but have an easier to study afterglow. They have been extensively studied and are known to be caused by explosions of massive stars in faraway galaxies.

Short GRBs don’t have a long afterglow and are thus more elusive. With the help of NASA’s Swift satellite, launched last November, a short burst, GRB 050509B, was viewed, precisely measured and studied. Over 20 years after short GRBs were first recognized, their likely origin was revealed as a merger between neutron stars of a binary system and the instantaneous production of a black hole.

Links to more information:
NASA Press Release

Posted by crose at October 27, 2005 4:51 PM