The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission just saw something bright in the Andromeda Galaxy. It was either a Gamma-Ray Burst or an Ultraluminous X-Ray Object, but either way it will be the closest event we've ever observed. ...unless it's just a known X-ray object, a programming bug, and a thunderstorm..
Cosmic rays generate the most energetic particles in the universe, utterly dwarfing anything we can generate in particle accelerators. Astrophysicists thought these cosmic rays were created in powerful gamma-ray bursts. Turns out they were completely, utterly wrong. So now what?
In theory, a supernova thousands of light-years away could release gamma-rays that would fry most life on Earth. But the star must be positioned exactly right for this to ever happen, and there's no way to prove it. Until now.
NASA recently observed a cosmic explosion, and nobody knows what it was. Actually, that's not exactly true: there are actually two equally good, utterly different explanations. It was either a collision in our galaxy...or a supernova billions of light-years away.
The image up top is an artist's impression of a gamma-ray burst blasting through a pair of galaxies on its billion-year journey to Earth. These ancient, incredibly powerful explosions reveal the composition of early galaxies. It's not what we expected.
One of the strangest and most exotic theories to come out of theoretical physics is that the entire universe is a projection of a two-dimensional shell. But the latest evidence suggests the cosmic hologram really is just a crazy theory.
White holes are the opposite of black holes, objects into which nothing can enter but are constantly spewing out matter. They were thought to be completely hypothetical, more a mathematical oddity than a real thing...but we may have seen one.
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful (and mysterious) explosions in the universe, shooting massive concentrated jets of hot plasma that are way too powerful to come from an ordinary supernova. And they might be the birth pangs of black holes.
A NASA telescope was temporarily blinded by the brightest X-rays ever detected from beyond our galaxy. The blinding light came from a gamma ray burst, the sign of a massive star collapsing into a black hole 500 billion light-years away.