GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gamma-ray burst detection. Animation (clip 1 of 11) showing a gamma-ray burst (GRB) being detected by a satellite as it scans the sky. GRBs are extremely energetic releases of gamma rays, visible across the universe in the direction the radiation is emitted. The GRB is shown here as a brief bright glow of light. GRBs are initially detected by satellites such as NASA's Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission (known as Swift). The precise cause varies depending on the duration. Shorter ones are thought to occur during the merger of colliding neutron stars as they form a black hole. Longer ones are thought to occur during the death and collapse of massive rapidly rotating stars. Later clips in this sequence (K003/2670-2660) show the process of neutron star merger in detail, as modelled by the Damiana supercomputer at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.
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