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.
It all started when Swift's Burst Alert Telescope picked up a powerful gamma-ray burst on March 28, at which point it notified scientists the world over. Astronomers sometimes see gamma-ray bursts like this when a star dies, but these bursts generally last a few hours or less.
The plot thickened when the burst didn't fade away. Dozens of telescopes turned toward the enigma, and it was concluded that the source of the gamma-ray burst is at the center of a galaxy some 3.8 billion light-years away. The burst was still repeating itself, brightening and fading over and over. There are objects in our own galaxy known to produce such repetitive bursts, but at a fraction of the intensity.
However, the gamma-ray burst's location at the center of a galaxy does point toward one likely suspect: a black hole.
So astronomers now have a theory. It's quite possible that a star was minding its own business when it wandered too close to the galaxy's central black hole. The intense forces generated by the black hole began to tear the star apart, causing infalling gas to begin streaming into it in a particle jet. This spawned an outflowing jet along the black hole's rotational axis, and that jet is pointed directly at us from billions of light years away.
A particle jet streaming directly at us from a black hole would explain the uptick in brightness over time, and the high-dose of X-rays could be explained by the matter that would be moving near the speed of light as it streams from the star toward the black hole. But the case is not yet closed on this one; additional Hubble observations are planned to see if the brightness streaming from the galaxy's core changes. If it doesn't eventually recede, or if it becomes inexplicably far more intense, there could be additional wrinkles to this mystery that have yet to be accounted for.
Cool. Maybe will actually learn something for a change which is more than I can say for Obama and congress.
I'm excited to see how bright this thing gets. Maybe this is the event the mayans were talking about! or....maybe its just a cool bit of astrophysics. Either way I'm pretty excited.
maybe if were lucky a focused beam will hit DC and wipe out congress so we can actually balance the budget once their all gone.
My money is on a red dwarf being chewed up by a black hole!
gizmowiz, take your trolling back to the Fauz News website. Also, just so you know, a deficit is not inherently bad.
Perhaps some aliens found us and are using their gamma ray-guns to try to kill us before we kill ourselves?
Gotta love tards that need to bring politics into a story like this.
@gizmowiz I have to agree with tertertert. please take the politics some where else. Its a little too off topic for this article and 95% of the time any article on popsci. You usually have nothing but constructive and good comments to add. I like you giz, one of the good guys on this site. no more politics please.
@ajohnson1986 you are excited about the the event the Mayans predicted!?!??! you mean the one the precedes the end of the world as we know it?
@Metamorphosis red drafs are very small stars. not only in size but mass as well. nothing special there, and I am sure a few hundred (million???) are probably getting gobbled up this very nano sec by countless black holes out there.
seems fishy. the theories in the article. a sun swallowed by a black hole?!?!? that happens all the time. that is the nature of black holes. they swallow stuff. we have seen and taken pictures of it, this is something new. or bigger at least. and don't you think the MASSIVE black hole at the center of the galaxy swallows stars on a "regular" basis. they are acting like a super massive black hole swallowing a star is a new idea.
This is the cool thought: think of an explosion. they are fast. bang its over. I can not even begin to perceive of an explosion not only one of the single BIGGEST ever seen, but also longest lasting.
thing of a stick of dynamite detonating and it takes 1 week to finish exploding. I know it not really anything like that.. but its hard to actually imagine how a cosmic explosion can last so long and not just be over in an instant (a la death star explosion)
I feel a great disturbance in the Force, like millions of voices crying out, then silenced.
Perhaps there is so much high density matter involved that after exploding (Read: Repulsion overcomes attraction), it collapses back in on itself and explodes again until it eventually attains equilibrium again after numerous cycles.
In regards to the Mayans, it is said the world AS WE KNOW IT will come to an end.
Hell, the world as I knew it 18 years ago already came to an end.
Electric cars, cellphones, touch screens, internet, wifi, CD based gaming, grenade launchers that tell their rounds to explode at particular distances, cloning, human organs being grown in labs, human organs being printed, face transplants.
Many incredible things are known to occur in 2012 from general computing to galactic alignment, so I imagine after that year, no matter what happens, our world will be a VERY different place, not gone altogether.
In regards to outrageous 2012 theories, perhaps this strange burst isn't an explosion at all. Perhaps it's the galactic caretakers on a faster than light path back to our planet. The brightening and fading are probably the gargantuan energy surges necessary to create a negative energy bubble (Or at least a forward facing dome) that forces out matter, so they can exceed the known speed limits.
That's all I got...
cholin3947, nice reference.
And yes, this *might* be a predicted event, it *might* not be. I'm leaning towards not. The ejection would have to travel at well over the speed of light for it to hit us in just a year and a half. 3.8 Billion Light Years is quite a distance. I guess one could argue that since we are seeing the event itself, that the eject could be shortly following. I guess we'll see.
Either way, there isn't anything we can do about it.
I've got to agree with you that this is probably happening millions of times across the universe (or an infinite number of times if you believe the universe is equally infinite)... however I also believe that what makes this special is 2 things:
1) It's close enough for us to easily see... while this may be happening an infinite number of times in an infinite universe, the visible universe is very finite... and hence the number of these occurrences is just as finite.
- AND -
2) If this is in fact a star being eaten by a black hole, this has the unlikely property of having it's relatively narrow beam of ejected particles pointed DIRECTLY at Earth. Think, out of the basically infinite number of degrees this thing could be pointed (x, y and z axis) it's shooting our way... and at that distance even the tiniest alteration in degree of ejection would result in dozens (hundreds, thousands, millions) of light years difference from where it was headed before the change. It's amazing that not only is this pointed in our infinitesimally small direction but has maintained this exact trajectory for an extended period of time.
Not bashing here, just saying that although this may be happening countless times in the universe, it's not everyday that these other factors come into play at the same time in order to give us one heck of a light show. =)
Doesn't the very nature of an "explosion" mean the blast is jutting out at all angles (x, y, z) simultaneously?
Well I'm pretty sure that the mayans didnt predict something that happened 3.5 billion years ago.Since its around 3.5 billion light years away we are seeing it as it was that many years ago.
I liked the spaceship comment.still Im sure aliens are not blasting off 3.5 billion years ago to save a life form that doesnt exist yet lol.
You would be correct if I was referencing an explosion, but in this scenario I'm only talking about the jet of charged particles emitted from the 'poles' of the black hole... which in these cases is EXTREMELY focused.
Maybe a super masive being born near another super massive?
Too close... stuff just plain goes all fakakta.
The death star is quite...operational...
On the Mayans subject (which seems to be a little off topic but I'll bite), this could be a cyclical event that reoccurs every few millenia. The Mayans just so happen to remind modern day people that this will happen around 2012 through their prophecies based on actual astronomical events. Seems plausible... in the off chance that this has anything to do with all that 2012 business.
It's ironic that this "fire burst" is coming from the Draco Constellation.
APOK011, your theory has merit. We know that eject matter has wobble and spin since black hole's themselves, like most everything else in the cosmos has wobble and spin, and since the Mayans were very intelligent and extremely detailed in their monitoring of the stars, I wonder if this will become visable without any optical aid.
this article is an educated guess, i wouldn't think this is too common or we would have seen it before, IMO...we have a giant black hole at the center of the milky way, it doesn't gobble up stars on a regular basis (maybe it does on a galactic time scale), a mystery unsolved, as the article states...myans? give me a break
Since and while speculation here has turned from science and physics to the paranormal I can provide the biblical perspective of what this type of event is foretold. That is not to say that this is or is not the event of an end time mystery but rather a reminder of what is foretold. If a believer is of creationism then he or she knows God created all to and including the science whereby to study His wonders and can appreciate the following as a contextual derivative. If a believer is of atheistic evolutionary brand then he or she can appreciate that all sides of controversial study proofs of explanatory and investigative thought have been or are attempting to be shared here without prejudice in search of truth. With that being said, my first post here I share to all of you within the scope and direction and to rebuttal of what has previously been posted from Christian perspective.
Genesis 1:14 "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:"
2 Thessalonians 2:1 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,"
2 Thessalonians 2:2 "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."
2 Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
2 Thessalonians 2:4 "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
2 Thessalonians 2:5 "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
2 Thessalonians 2:6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time."
2 Thessalonians 2:7 "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."
2 Thessalonians 2:8 "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:"
2 Thessalonians 2:9 "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,"
2 Thessalonians 2:10 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"
2 Thessalonians 2:12 "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
2 Thessalonians 2:13 "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"
2 Thessalonians 2:14 "Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
2 Thessalonians 2:16 "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,"
2 Thessalonians 2:17 "Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
Mathew 24:27 "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Mathew 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Isaiah 34:4 "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree."
Revelation 6:14 "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places."
The myans predicted the galactic orbit to be 280 million years...nasa came up with 250 MY in the 90's. The mayans made very acurate measurments in terms of the stars and the orbit of the earth and even the galactic orbit...how they figured that out we'll never know. They did not predict the end of time on december 21 2012...that's the end of their long count calendar.
Does the world end every Dec.31st @ 11:59? No, we throw out our old calendaers and get a new one...if the Myans were still around they would make a new calendar after Dec.21st 2012
@the Writing DM.... *FACEPALM* Ok, 1st, the idea that mayans predicted an event to conincide with the ending of there "long calendar" isn't "paranormal" in nature, it's conjecture based on the scientific fact that the mayan calanders sync with hundreds of comic events, be that lunar, solar, or planetary. The mayans calculated many things that we assumed were well beyond their understanding, and I might add that they did this well before monothestic views of religion cropped up.
2nd, the book in which you quote was written by humans, end of debate, no man can claim that it wasn't. It was rewritten many times as well. I for one will never put my faith in a religion that can't even agree on what to put into it's own holy book. One religious group thinks they are right, and all others are wrong. It's counter-productive! And the fact that most of the stories are shared across these religions in some way shape or form, it's funny that they all disagree.
drchuck... we can't see our own black hole, we are so far out in the arms of our galaxy that the shear ammount of celestial bodies between us and the center makes it impossible to see. We can only go off what we can see looking out, and that shows us that black holes eat up what's around them. So it's safe to assume that 1 of 2 situations are happening at our center, either 1, it's eating up stuff or 2, it's reached stasis.
As far as this thing beaming right at us, there are so many possiblities for WHY whatever is happening is happening, we could have just moved into position to see it, I mean we ARE moving around our sun as well as moving around our galatic center... Any number of things could have just aligned.. either way, it's pretty neat, too bad we don't have better tech to check out this event.
actually we can't see any black hole, i don't recall any observation of it eating anything, just stars moving very rapidly around it...myans, like other ancient cultures, observed the heavens, no mystery there
lol again the myans deduced the GALACTIC orbit, this is no small feat...it is in fact a big mystery, because the only way nasa was able to make an educated guess at it is because they have the hubble telescope in orbit.