A mystery is unfolding out there in the cosmos, and NASA’s Swift, Hubble Space Telescope, and Chandra X-Ray Observatory are teaming up to solve the case. But while researchers have pieced together some of the pieces of the puzzle over the last week, the huge, high-energy blast continues to brighten and fade, making it the brightest, longest-lasting such burst of energy researchers have ever seen.
NASA scientists have figured out what temporarily knocked out the X-ray detector on the agency's Swift space observatory earlier this summer: the strongest blast of X-rays ever recorded from beyond the Milky Way slammed into Swift unexpectedly, overwhelming the detector and puzzling mission handlers for a moment. But good luck sending a bill to the culprit for time lost; the X-rays were spawned 5 billion years ago during the violent explosion of a massive star as it turned into a black hole.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.