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IPFS News Link • Solar Flares

Extremely powerful gamma ray burst sweeps across Earth

•, By Michael Irving

A beam of high-energy radiation up to 18 times more powerful than the previous record swept over Earth last weekend.

The signal, designated GRB 221009A, was detected on October 9 – although the explosion itself occurred 1.9 billion years ago. It came from the direction of the constellation Sagitta, and was visible to telescopes for more than 10 hours, making it one of the longest-lasting GRBs detected.

That's not the only odd thing about it – GRB 221009A was found to deliver the highest energy of any GRB ever detected. The energy of these events is usually measured in giga-electronvolts (GeV), but a few have been recorded with energies of about 1 tera-electronvolt (TeV). But this new event may have reached a record-breaking 18 TeV, marking the first detection of a GRB with energies above 10 TeV.

At least, that's according to data from a Chinese observatory called the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO), which is designed to detect gamma rays and cosmic rays by measuring cascades of particles they set off in Earth's atmosphere. This data will need to be verified by other teams before GRB 221009A can earn its place in the record books.

Regardless, this gamma ray burst remains one of the most energetic and brightest ever detected, largely because it's relatively nearby. While 1.9 billion light-years may not sound very close, most others are detected several billion light-years or more away. This proximity also explains why it glowed for so much longer afterwards. Astronomers say it might be decades before another GRB this bright is detected.

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