NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gamma-ray burst. Artwork showing a possible mechanism for gamma-ray bursts, extremely powerful bursts of gamma radiation that flare and then disappear in a matter of seconds. The small body seen at centre represents a neutron star or a black hole - end product of the supernova explosion which marks the death of a massive star. In the explosion a tremendous amount of energy is channelled into two narrow beams. According to this theory, the gamma-ray burst is seen only when one of the two beams points towards the Earth. Other models for gamma-ray bursts involve the collision between two neutron stars or two black holes.
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