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NASA Science Update: Swift Short Burst
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In a Flash NASA Helps Solve 35-year-old Cosmic Mystery


Presenter 1: Dr. Neil Gehrels
Swift Principal Investigator, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


A gamma ray light comparison of burst intensity over time. Long bursts are created during the supernova explosion of massive stars and short bursts are created during the collision of supermassive objects; both signal the creation of a black hole.
Click on image to view animation

+ Click here for high resolution image


Image above: A gamma ray light comparison of burst intensity over time. Long bursts are created during the supernova explosion of massive stars and short bursts are created during the collision of supermassive objects; both signal the creation of a black hole. Click on image to view animation.

Credit: NASA
Animation credit: Mike McClare



Gama Ray Burst Image Chandra Image
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Images above: Images of the sky for two short bursts imaged by Swift. The left panel is the image for GRB 050509b. The blue circle on the sky indicates the position from Swift's gamma-ray instrument and the red circle from its x-ray telescope. The right panel is for GRB 050724. The red circle is from Swift’s x-ray telescope and the small circles and crosses are precision locations on the sky from optical, x-ray (Chandra) and radio observations. In both cases, the GRB seems to be associated with a bright elliptical galaxy.

Credit image 1: Rhaana Starling/Univ. Amsterdam, Jens Hjorth/Univ. Copenhagen.
Credit image 2: Gianpiero Tagliaferri/Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera.


Presenter 2: Dr. George Ricker
HETE Principal Investigator


HETE GRB Gamma Ray Light Curve
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+ Full resolution of HETE GRB high energy curve image
+ Full resolution of HETE GRB low-high energy curve image

Animation above: The HETE spacecraft detected the 70-millisecond Gamma Ray Burst on July 9, 2005.

Credit: NASA
Graphic and animation credit: Mike McClare/NASA GSFC



Gama Ray Burst
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Image above: Star chart showing the location of the HETE burst on the sky.

Credit: Dana Berry/NASA


Presenter 3: Dr. Derek Fox
Assistant Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Penn State University, State College, Penn.


Optical Invert Image
Click on image to view animation


Animation above: Various observatories watch the July 9, 2005 Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) afterglow. A team lead by Dr. Derek Fox discovered the X-ray afterglow with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory; a team led by Prof. Jens Hjorth of the University of Copenhagen then identified the optical afterglow using the Danish 1.5-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Fox's team continued its study of the GRB afterglow with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit: NASA, University of Copenhagen
Visualization credit: Mike McClare/NASA GSFC



GRB afterglow image
Click on image to view animation


Animation above: This movie was made by interpolating half-day intervals between 4 observations made of GRB 050709 by the Hubble Space Telescope during a 30 day period.

Credit: NASA, Penn State University
Visualization credit: Derek Fox, Mike McClare



Chandra Image

Image above: Chandra image




Gama Ray Burst Image
Click on image to view high resolution


Image above: Hubble Space Telescope image of the afterglow and host galaxy of the HETE short burst of July 9, 2005; the bright, point-like afterglow is located to the left, on the outskirts of its extended, irregularly-shaped host galaxy. The host galaxy is of a similar age to the Milky Way, but about one-tenth the size. Both the burst and its host galaxy are located 2.1 billion light-years from Earth. The colors indicate the intensity of red light (814 nm) as seen by the Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument on HST.

Credit: Derek Fox/Penn State University



Chandra Image
Click on image to view high resolution


Image above: Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the sky surrounding the afterglow and host galaxy of the HETE short burst of July 9, 2005. The circle indicates the region of sky from which HETE saw the burst. The box, inset, indicates where the X-ray and optical afterglow of the burst was ultimately found. The bright X-ray afterglow of the burst is apparent in the middle of this box. The colors indicate the intensity of the X-ray emission (1.0-7.0 keV) as seen by the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer instrument on Chandra.

Credit: Derek Fox/Penn State University



Gama Ray Burst Image
Click on image to view high resolution


Image above: Hubble Space Telescope image of the sky surrounding the afterglow and host galaxy of the HETE short burst of July 9, 2005. The circle indicates the region of sky from which HETE saw the burst. The box, inset, indicates where the X-ray and optical afterglow of the burst was ultimately found. The colors indicate the intensity of red light (814 nm) as seen by the Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument on HST.

Credit: Derek Fox/Penn State University



Gama Ray Burst Image Gama Ray Burst Image Gama Ray Burst Image Gama Ray Burst Image
Click on images to view high resolution


Images above: These Hubble Space Telescope images show the fading afterglow and host galaxy of the HETE short burst of July 9, 2005. The images are taken 5.6, 9.8, 18.6, and 34.7 days after the burst, respectively. The bright, point-like afterglow is located to the left, and fades away over the course of the month following the burst. The colors indicate the intensity of red light (814 nm) as seen by the Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument on HST.

Credit: Derek Fox/Penn State University



Danish Optical Image
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Image above: A team led by Prof. Jens Hjorth of the University of Copenhagen observed the optical afterglow of the July 9, 2005 Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) using the Danish 1.5-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Credit: Jens Hjorth and Brian L. Jensen/University of Copenhagen


Presenter 4: Dr. Albert Lazzarini
Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena


Ligo Image
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Image above: It is possible that the merger of two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole could be detected by the National Science Foundation's Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

Credit: National Science Foundation's Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory



Still from vertical binary merger animation
Click on image to view animation.


Image above: A binary pair of neutron stars spirals vertically to collision emitting a GRB Suggested Caption: Gamma-ray bursts are common, yet random, and fleeting events that have mystified astronomers since their discovery in the late 1960s. Many scientists say longer bursts (more than four seconds in duration) are caused by massive star explosions; shorter bursts (less than two seconds in duration) are caused by mergers of binary systems with black holes or neutron stars. This animation portrays one possible scenario that could produce the shorter bursts. While uncertainty remains, most scientists say in either scenario a new black hole is born.
Credit: Dana Berry/NASA


Presenter 5: Rocky Kolb, Director
Particle Astrophysics Center, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, Ill


Gamma Ray Burst Image Gamma ray burst image Gamma Ray Burst Image Gamma Ray Burst Image
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+ Click here to view animation

Images above: Black hole devours a neutron star. Scientists say they have seen tantalizing, first-time evidence of a black hole eating a neutron star-first stretching the neutron star into a crescent, swallowing it, and then gulping up crumbs of the broken star in the minutes and hours that followed.
Credit: Dana Berry/NASA



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