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Fermi and Swift Observe Record-setting Gamma Ray Burst

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the where-do-we-send-the-medal? dept.

Space 107

symbolset writes "Phys.org shares a visual image of a 'shockingly bright' gamma ray burst observed April 27th, labelled GRB 130427A and subsequently observed by ground optical and radio telescopes. One gamma ray photon from the event measured 94 billion electron volts — three times the previous record. The burst lasted four hours and was observable for most of a day — another record. Typical duration of a gamma ray burst is from 10 milliseconds to a few minutes. Astronomers will now train optical telescopes on the spot searching for the supernova expected to have caused it — typically one is observed some few days after the burst. They expect to find one by the middle of May. The event occurred about 3.6 billion lightyears distant which is fairly close as gamma ray bursts go. Click on the GIF to view the actual burst."

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Need expert opinion (4, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632239)

How close would one of these events have to be to us to fuck us up?

Re:Need expert opinion (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632247)

Anywhere in the Galaxy, if it were pointed in our direction. Maybe anywhere in the Local Group, if it were pointed right at us.

Re:Need expert opinion (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632359)

I guess this is probably related to the neutrinos that were detected a few days ago?

Re:Need expert opinion (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632493)

No. They may have detected something, and it's not gone through the pipeline yet, but Bert and Ernie were much before this event.

They [lanl.gov] were August 8, 2011 (Bert) and January 3, 2012 (Ernie).

  Even if they didn't see a thing, I am sure there will be an IceCube press release about this in a few months, as they will be able to improve the GRB neutrino limit.

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

cybrpnk2 (579066) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637987)

Dude, Bert and Ernie could have travelled BACK IN TIME from this event!

Re:Need expert opinion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632675)

I read 200 light years from a typical supernova lasting a few milliseconds.

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632741)

Pointed right at us? WTF? How does a GRB have much, if any, directionality?

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632803)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-ray_burst

Re:Need expert opinion (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632807)

They have a lot of directionality. The physics is not completely understood, but gamma ray bursts are focused along a fairly narrow line in two opposite directions.

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43633211)

Main beam cannons on giant robotic Japanese battleships manned by Japanese space chicks are generally pretty directional and very powerful...

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633447)

LOL! That brings back memories. :)

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637817)

Mind providing a reference? Some of us might like to acquire such memories.

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | about a year and a half ago | (#43640247)

Here's a start: Space Battleship Yamato [wikipedia.org]

Space Battleship Yamato (Uch Senkan Yamato, also called Cosmoship Yamato) is a Japanese science fiction anime series featuring an eponymous spacecraft. It is also known to English-speaking audiences as Space Cruiser Yamato; an English-dubbed and heavily edited version of the series was broadcast on North American and Australian television as Star Blazers. The first two seasons ("Quest for Iscandar" and "The Comet Empire") of this version were broadcast in Greece in 1981-82 as Diastimóploio Argó ("Spaceship Argo"). An Italian-language version was also broadcast under the name Star Blazers in Italy, and a Portuguese-language version was successfully shown in Brazil under the title Patrulha Estelar ("Star Patrol") and Viaje a la Ultima Galaxia ("Voyage to the Final Galaxy") or Astronave Intrepido ("Starship Intrepid") in Spain and Latin America.

It is a seminal series in the history of anime, marking a turn towards more complex serious works and influencing works such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion; Hideaki Anno has ranked Yamato his favorite anime and credited it with sparking his interest in anime.

Yamato was the first anime series or movie to win the Seiun Award, a feat not repeated until the 1985 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

The show starts on a post-apocalyptic Earth, with humanity trying to survive a war with an alien race. The titular ship [wikipedia.org] is actually the wreck of the World War II battleship Yamato [wikipedia.org] , rebuilt and converted into an FTL starship. The engine that allows supraluminal travel also powers a planet-busting spinal mount [firedrake.org] beam weapon, the Wave Motion Gun [tvtropes.org] .

They recently did a live-action film [imdb.com] , which had a pretty awful script. I found it entertaining in a cheesy/campy/back-to-childhood way. YMMV :)

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | about a year and a half ago | (#43640281)

Main beam cannons on giant robotic Japanese battleships manned by Japanese space chicks are generally pretty directional and very powerful...

Come to think of it, that post was probably referring to a more recent anime franchise, Macross/Robotech [wikipedia.org] . Space Battleship Yamato wasn't robotic and had a fairly balanced bridge crew, gender-wise. The SDF Macross, on the other hand, could transform into a giant robot and had a predominantly female bridge crew. Guess my age is showing. ;p

Re:Need expert opinion (1, Interesting)

J'raxis (248192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633765)

Score 5; insightful?

All the GRBs we see are pointed right at us. They're highly directional; any GRBs that aren't pointed right at us we can't even detect.

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43634203)

Parent's .SIG is a troll

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

fisted (2295862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635123)

Your point being?

Re:Need expert opinion (3, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635719)

IIUC, while any that we can detect are pointed in our direction, there's a lot of halo around the core of the emission. We generally pick things up from that halo, but the core would be a lot more intense. If it were pointed right at us, that would mean that the most intense portion of the beam was pointed at us. There isn't much spread, but the signal has been spreading out slowly for many light-years. (Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? Pick your incident to get your answer.) Even a laser spreads given that much distance. If there's no other reason, then there's bumpy space around stars, and variations in the galactic magnetic field.

So, yeah, unless they're very close we can't detect them unless they're pointed at us. But the directionality is sufficient that at sufficient distance there's a sufficient spread that most of the space where the signal can be detected is relatively weak compared to the central part of the beam.

OTOH, this is just "IIUC". I could be wrong. But I don't think so.

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43640799)

If it's pointed right at us, I say we do the only sensible thing and shoot back!

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632341)

See:

http://phys.org/news/2011-12-supernova.html#nRlv

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632413)

How close would one of these events have to be to us to fuck us up?

3.7 billion lightyears distant. And the name of the star is called Wormwood.

Re:Need expert opinion (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632491)

Umm, Chernobyl, when translated, is Wormwood. I'm not looking for another.

Re: Need expert opinion (2)

TheEffigy (2666397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632429)

If it were pointed right at us, my understanding is our ozone would be ionised pretty quickly. Clearly that would not be a good thing.

Re: Need expert opinion (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633519)

Depending on close one is, it could ionize our entire atmosphere, not just the ozone. But from what I understand, ionizing a significant part of our ozone is all that is needed to mess things up really badly.

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632843)

In what universe is 3.6 lightyears distance --- i.e. 1/4 the age of universe AND 1/4 the size of the visible universe --- close to us?

Re:Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632933)

It's all relative. If we got a face full of a big enough GRB from that distance then there would be the distinct possibility that life on earth as we know it would be dead. Think of it as random idiots firing guns into the air in a semi-crowded neighbourhood. Most of the bullets will hit nothing but, every now and then, one will hit some poor smuck and kill them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-ray_burst#Rates_and_potential_effects_on_life_on_Earth

Re: Need expert opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43633065)

Check your facts, the milky way alone is 100,000 light years accross

Re:Need expert opinion (2)

HuguesT (84078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633781)

In fact the visible universe is significant bigger than 12 billion ly in radius, because the universe is expanding. The co-moving distance to the edge of the universe is more like 46 billion ly. See this wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] for more details. If this is true, 3.6 billion ly is about 8% of the distance to the edge of the visible universe, which represents a partial volume of (3.6/46)^3 = 5 10^{-4} the size of the visible universe (or 0.05%).

So this is indeed very close by and rare.

Cheers

Rank builder Review (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632273)

Rank Builder Review Bonus Over $1200
http://rankbuilder-reviews.com/

This may be important for quantum gravity (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632301)

The brightest Gamma ray bursts (GRB) are important for quantum gravity, as the photons have a short enough wavelength and go over long enough distances that spacetime foam [arxiv.org] should give them dispersion. The best test so far is based mostly on GRB 080916C [skyandtelescope.com] , and from what I hear this new burst may be able to do better.

A little background.

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle predicts "virtual" particles. The time part of the uncertainty principle is delta T delta E > h, where E is energy, T is time and h is Planck's constant (I am ignoring factors of 2 pi). As the time of an event (say, the time for a photon to travel one wavelength) gets shorter, the energy of the virtual particles allowed (delta E) gets bigger. For short enough time periods (i.e., near the Planck time), the energy is enough that the virtual particles are black holes, popping in and out of existence, and severely mangling the spacetime on that time / distance scale. This mangling is called "spacetime foam". The wavelength of the GRB photons is much larger than the Planck distance (roughly, the virtual black holes should live for a Planck time and have an event horizon the size of the Planck distance), but the GRBs are very far away, and the GRB photons pass over many, many, Planck distances along the way, and each adds a little nudge. This effect depends on the photon energy (it is larger for higher energies, as these are smaller photons), thus the "dispersion" mentioned in these papers.

The really cool thing is that the existing dispersion limits seem to be less than many people's expectations. If this is confirmed (and pushed down to a little smaller distance scale), then the conventional spacetime foam ideas I outlined above here may not be correct. This, in fact, may be the first evidence for the "holographic principle," which implies a smoother spacetime than the above ideas. In any case, this is the only way we have at present to say anything experimental about quantum gravity, so the more data the better.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (5, Funny)

Ultra64 (318705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632347)

Mmm, hmm. I recognize some of these words.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (2, Funny)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632431)

Thank you, kind sir, for the much needed belly laugh!

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632595)

Which one? Was it "Heisenberg"?

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632703)

I'm uncertain about that one.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635483)

:)

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632713)

Really? Is slashdot now making fun of the nerds for being smart?

It wasn't that complicated to understand either, I haven't cared about any of that stuff for 20 years and I could follow along just fine.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632821)

Really? Is slashdot now making fun of the nerds for being smart?

You must be a ton of fun at parties. In this case, the poster is actually making fun of *himself* for not being as smart as the OP (or, possibly, simply for not being educated in the field the OP is talking about), not of the OP for being smarter than him. At worst, it is a comment on how specific and arcane the language of a specific field can become to the outside observer.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (-1, Offtopic)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633021)

I considered that, but the up-mods don't fit that model. Is everybody laughing at joe random no-nothing? Self deprecating humor is boring when the person doing the self-deprecating is nobody anybody knows.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43633077)

I considered that, but the up-mods don't fit that model. Is everybody laughing at joe random no-nothing? Self deprecating humor is boring when the person doing the self-deprecating is nobody anybody knows.

You're trying to do some deep analysis of the humor here.

I would say *whoosh*, but I don't think the up-mods fit that model.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43634379)

Project much?

In response to insightful comment: "Wow, that is beyond my understanding," followed by others agreeing. Oh no, they must obviously be making fun of him and trying to get him to go away, because there is no body on Slashdot makes smart-ass comments, especially in situations where they might not be able to add further insight to a topic.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (2)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633579)

You must be a ton of fun at parties.

I might be missing something, and you might be new here, but I usually leave CHA as it is and just count on natural 20s.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633099)

Thank you.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633657)

So basically, the spacetime foam theory is not playing out?

That's comforting, because it implies that the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a bit more mundane than we think. I like to take it as an experimental practicality to "energy can be neither created nor destroyed"; but what I like is irrelevant to reality. However, if the spacetime foam is invalid, then the reality happens to be closer to what I imagine: a definition of existance and indeed space based on interactions between energetic particles, and a need of the particles for experimental validation with the rest of the universe.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635423)

So basically, the spacetime foam theory is not playing out?

It's too soon to be sure, but, as the paper says,

Such limits constrain dispersive effects created, for example, by the spacetime foam of quantum gravity. In the context of quantum gravity, our bounds set M1c2 greater than 525 times the Planck mass, suggesting that spacetime is smooth at energies near and slightly above the Planck mass.

That sure isn't what I would expect. Now, maybe the current thinking (really, just dimensional analysis) is missing something important, but if we can push that "slightly above" to "slightly below," then I think it is would be good to consider other alternatives.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year and a half ago | (#43640035)

Got a question : as a proton, one among many, accelerates into a black hole, what is going on with the individual quarks? What shape do they form? What virtual particles are materialized, in what pattern? What structure do they develop?

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43641111)

Got a question : as a proton, one among many, accelerates into a black hole, what is going on with the individual quarks? What shape do they form? What virtual particles are materialized, in what pattern? What structure do they develop?

Don't know. Nobody knows.

In GR, nothing much, until they fall into the singularity at the center of a black hole (although tidal forces would rip even a proton apart as it got close to the singularity, and that would generate a lot of particle production). At the singularity itself, the equations fail, and so GR makes no predictions.

In string theory there may be holographic effects that turn the event horizon into a "firewall," which has been in the scientific news a lot lately (search on "black hole firewall"), which would destroy the proton as soon as it entered the black hole. Or, maybe not, as string theory is by no means settled, and may not even have a connection with reality (having no experimental constraints).

There is a very profound mathematical fact at the center of GR - you cannot see a singularity and report on it. This is called "cosmic censorship," and it seems to be inviolable (in the theory, at least). If you are outside an event horizon, you can't see the singularity. Once you cross it, you may be able to (in fact, it would be in a sense all you could see), but you cannot report back to the outside. The holographic string theory firewall appears to be very different, but maybe it isn't, as you cannot report back in that theory, either. So, GR has an inadequacy (the divide by zero in the center of a black hole), but it is not possible to ever get any information about it experimentally. My intuition says that this may be the key to the entire problem, if we could but grasp its true meaning.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (2)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633873)

I do very casual reading on such topics, the stuff generally meant for the layman. Since you appear to be much more knowledgeable, maybe you can answer this for me: any chance this could be a signal from evaporating primordial black holes? What kind of signal do we expect to see for those? Other than not finding a supernova in the direction of the burst, that is.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (5, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43634365)

No, although that was entertained (by some) in the fairly long history of these bursts.

In the early days (after GRB were detected by US satellites sent up to look for nuclear explosions) there were lots of theories, as we knew basically nothing about them. The consensus was that GRB were probably fairly close to us, in the galaxy (which kept the burst energy reasonable). The early satellites could only see the brightest bursts, so there weren't many bursts observed, and statistics were very poor, so you couldn't say much more. (At this time I remember some people proposing primordial black hole explanations.) One of the major goals of the Compton Space Telescope BATSE experiment was to be sensitive enough to GRB to be able to observe hundreds to thousands of them, with decent positions, enough data so that you should be able to see the Milky Way (the galactic disk) in the burst locations (i.e., that you would see more bursts along the Milky Way in the sky than in other directions). At the time, the consensus opinion was very strongly that BATSE would see the plane of the Milky Way in the aggregate burst positions, as they accumulated.

The experiment was flown and worked well and recorded an isotropic (random) distribution of bursts. (So much for conventional wisdom.) This meant that the bursts were either very far away (and thus very powerful) or very close (and thus relatively weak, weak enough that you could only see them up to a few light years, where everything is in the galactic disk, and thus can look random in direction, the way the brightest stars in the night sky appear more-or-less random in direction). I actually toyed around with an extraterrestrial intelligence explanation for close bursts at that time (the bursts would be some side effect of power generation or space travel, which would have implied that the ETIs were close and ubiquitous), but most people started thinking about extremely distant (to be random), and thus very powerful events. (IIRC, this was bad but not quite fatal for the primordial black hole explanation, as those bursts are strong enough that you would expect to see the galactic disk in the accumulated BATSE data, but maybe you could adjust things enough to get around that.)

This conundrum was resolved by the orbiting Swift telescope, which could not only see GRB, but could report a position back to Earth quickly enough to train an optical telescope on the spot within a few seconds. This was flown, and some GRBs were observed in the optical. (This also required some serious work on rapid response optical telescopes.) Swift + optical meant that we knew their positions very accurately, so the biggest telescopes could be used to see where, exactly, they were coming from (which turned out to be distant galaxies) and thus get a red shift, and thus a distance (the GRB of the OP is apparently at a red shift of 0.34). That, among other things, showed very clearly that these bursts could not be primordial black holes (or local ETI!), as those are much too weak to see bursting across cosmological distances.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636033)

Thanks for the response. Finding people like you once in a while is the reason I still browse slashdot. Very interesting stuff.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636885)

you're welcome

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636391)

but the GRBs are very far away, and the GRB photons pass over many, many, Planck distances along the way

No shit. Distance to GRBs is measured in (many, many) light years - in fact, 3.6 * 10^9 of them. 1 light year is roughly 10^16 m.
The Planck length is roughly 10^{-35} m.
There is an insane amount of Planck distances in a yoctometer [wikipedia.org] , which is the smallest SI prefix I could find (10^{-24} m). (roughly about 10^11: 100 billion).
In 3.6*10^25 m, there are slightly more Planck distances -- in the order of 10^60.

So yeah, "many, many" Planck distances is an understatement of such degree I cannot make a suitable analogy. Not even a car analogy.

Re:This may be important for quantum gravity (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636931)

Just think of it as nerd humor.

Note - Fermi detected a 94 GeV photon [cosmoquest.org] from Gamma Ray Burst GRB 130427A (over 1/2 the Higgs energy), and many photons in the GeV range, which bodes well for quantum gravity constraints.

That photon had a wavelength of ~ 10^-17 meters, or 10 million yoctometers

Gardening Question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632335)

Will this have any effect on the Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

Betelgeuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632345)

Could this be Betelgeuse? Did we just dodge that bullet?

Re:Betelgeuse? (4, Funny)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632381)

Nope, I am going to go with the scientists here and say its very credible that it was a Galaxy far far away. Also a long long time ago.

So I'm going to further speculate that it was the death star blowing up the Aldebaran system. Or perhaps the deathstar being blown up it self.

Now how the Ewoks would survive such a massive gamma burst is anyones guess.

Re:Betelgeuse? (4, Funny)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632501)

I believe the Ewoks survive it by chortling, giggling, and jumping up and down. Did you wish to propose an alternative survival method?

Re:Betelgeuse? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632569)

Lol!

They were shielded by their gold plated demigod from the worst of it =)

Re:Betelgeuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43639901)

The final key to their survival was the addition of extremely silly music and dancing. The things you already stated bought them just enough time to come up with the real solution, so they were still required. Obviously.

We can see similar things in the present on our world, as South Korea is testing out variations of the above approach as a means of bettering their defence capabilities towards North Korea.

Re:Betelgeuse? (2)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632511)

Very appropriate for Star Wars Day!

On a (very slightly) more serious note, Kardashev type III civilizations might be able to weaponize Gamma Ray Bursts, and take out an entire Galaxy the way the Death Star took out Alderaan. I suspect that even Darth Vader would find that impressive.

Re:Betelgeuse? (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632579)

Hehe, thanks for catching the misspelling of Alderaan (bad me). I knew I got it wrong. But yeah, I like the Kardashev scale also.

TBH I didn't realize it was Star Wars Day. Though I do like Star Wars quite a bit =) so my coincidental celebration of it is great!

Re:Betelgeuse? (3, Funny)

Molochi (555357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632689)

May the 4th... be with you.

Re:Betelgeuse? (1)

KZigurs (638781) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636393)

Being curious - is this 'may the 4th' be with you something that has been going on for a while or just a rather smart viral marketing by Disney?

Re:Betelgeuse? (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636873)

I have seen it for years, and I am not a Star Wars fan (not since Episode 1).

Re:Betelgeuse? (1)

Molochi (555357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43639375)

I first head it at a Dragoncon in a galaxy (Georgia, USA) far away and a time (over 20 years ago) far far away. A New Hope was playing the main hall that night and the later dance ball with half the strippers in Atlanta was pretty epic.

Kinda lodges in the brain.

Re:Betelgeuse? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43639753)

I did that all much later than you, but the memories I have of Georgia are fond as well =) Nice to know its an ongoing tradition. I will make a mental effort to remember next year.

Re:Betelgeuse? (3, Funny)

Molochi (555357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632687)

As shown in historical media, the blast of the exploding Deathstar expanded on a two dimensional plane. This plane obviously did not bisect the ewok's midichlorians.

Re:Betelgeuse? (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632873)

Nope, I am going to go with the scientists here and say its very credible that it was a Galaxy far far away. Also a long long time ago.

So I'm going to further speculate that it was the death star blowing up the Aldebaran system. Or perhaps the deathstar being blown up it self.

Now how the Ewoks would survive such a massive gamma burst is anyones guess.

Ewoks are obviously highly resistant to gamma ray radiation due to their furry coating.

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632573)

I thought we dodged Betelgeuse in 1988 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Betelgeuse? (3, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632971)

If it was Betelgeuse, you would know it. It would probably be bright enough to be seen during daylight in the visible light range, let alone invisible GRBs.

Thing is, unless Betelgeuse happened to have it's axis pointed right at us, we wouldn't be hit by a beam of radiation that sometimes forms at the poles of a supernova/black hole. If that beam was not pointed right at us, we are far enough away that the rest of the supernova products would not cause us more than a light show.

Supernovae need to be around 50 light years away or less to cause serious issues for us, unless the energy was very concentrated (like the jets from certain types of black holes). Betelgeuse is not that close. Indeed, no candidates for a supernova are known to be within that radius at this time.

Re:Betelgeuse? (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633183)

This Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) was stronger than a typical GRB, and a typical GRB is much stronger than a typical supernova, at least in the beam. This paper [arxiv.org] considers the effects of a GRB at 2 kpc, or 6000 light years, or over 100 times further away than the 50 ly supernova limit. I don't know any details of the new GRB, but if it was as bright as they are implying, it could have been dangerous from the galactic center or beyond.

There is one asterisk here - a supernova will be dangerous for some time (possibly months), while a GRB lasts seconds. A GRB, even if it totally roasts one hemisphere of a planet, would miss the other side, while a SN could get both sides. There might be second order effects from the GRB (such as some sort of nuclear winter) that could cause havoc, but a single GRB just might not be able to totally sterilize a planet from 20,000 light years away. (The 50 ly supernova limit is not that firm, either). We don't know for sure in either case, and I for one would not like to find out.

I collect used underpants. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632441)

Men's only, of course.

New low for slashdot (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632499)

It happened 3.6 billons of years ago, isn't time to get a bit fresher news?

And it's a dupe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632525)

There was a story about it here when it first happened.

Re:New low for slashdot (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633261)

Okay, News: the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.

Uh, 87 zillion volts? (2)

tutufan (2857787) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632553)

How can a photon have volts? Aren't all photons created equal?

Re:Uh, 87 zillion volts? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632577)

electron volts, not volts. Wikipedia is your friend. It's how energy is measured when you talk about small things.

Re:Uh, 87 zillion volts? (4, Informative)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632581)

"electron volt" is a unit of energy --- specifically, the energy required to move one electron charge across one volt of electrical potential. 1 joule is ~6.2*10^18 electron volts. And no, all photons aren't "equal" --- they have different energies (equivalently, different wavelengths, frequencies, momenta, or colors for visible-range photons). For comparison, visible light photons are ~2 electron volts energy.

Re:Uh, 87 zillion volts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632605)

Electron-volts, not volts. An electron-volt is a unit of energy. It's the amount of work done on an electron by a potential difference of 1 V.

And no, not all photons are created equal. Even in the visible range, some of them are red and some are blue.

Those photons have different amounts of energy. A red photon has about 1.7 eV of energy, while a blue one has about 3.1 eV. An infrared, microwave, or radio-frequency photon has many times less energy than a visible-light photon, and a gamma-ray photon can have many times more (in this case, billions of times more).

Re:Uh, 87 zillion volts? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632683)

Seriously? Is that what Slashdot has turned into?
 
Go suck another faggot dick and read another comic book... it's nearly bed time for you, young cunt.

Re: Uh, 87 zillion volts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43633577)

U wot m8?

Colour (3, Funny)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632833)

Aren't all photons created equal?

No, that was the early black and white universe: for the last 13.8 billion years we've had colour.

Re:Uh, 87 zillion volts? (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633545)

All photons of the exact same frequency are equal. Higher frequency GRB photons are more equal than lower frequency ones. They are the 0.1%.

A page with technical details (5, Informative)

StupendousMan (69768) | about a year and a half ago | (#43632557)

I wrote up a short summary of the observational details for one of my classes -- you can find it at

http://spiff.rit.edu/classes/phys443/lectures/grb130427a/grb130427a.html [rit.edu]

You can also follow a nice summary of the latest results by following Don Alexander's thread on the Cosmoquest forum:

http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?143754-GRB-130427A-burst-of-the-(quarter)-century [cosmoquest.org]

Re:A page with technical details (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632645)

WARNING: goatse link. Do not click.

Re:A page with technical details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632735)

Great information. Thanks for the write up and the links.

Re:A page with technical details (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43634565)

Very nice write-up.

Where the phuck is phucking phil plait? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43632701)

Has he finally abandoned Slashdot? Is his new gig at The Slate falling to shit on him? Has he finally figured out that we're sick of his bitch ass?
 
Thankfully people have stepped up and stopped that blog pimp in his tracks. He only cared about making a buck off of Slashdot. He wasn't here to be part of anything but a royal scam. He was always about the dollars. Phucking phuck phuck Phil. May he rot in hell.

Enrico Fermi and Jonathan Swift? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633165)

I have just imagined http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrico_Fermi [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Swift [wikipedia.org] looking at a supernova. Maybe someone can guess what they would say to each other about it, but I have no idea.

Re:Enrico Fermi and Jonathan Swift? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43633235)

Oh must you truly indulge your fetishes on /. I suppose you must. You have tempted fate.

True Love by Fate

It was a dark and stormy night. An unnatural haze lingered over Rome, Italy. In his bed, Enrico Fermi shivered. For a summer night, the air was cold and the sky was black. It was almost as if something evil lurked out there in the shadows.

Enrico Fermi rolled over, clutching his pillow, and tried to fall back asleep. But a worry nagged in the back of his mind. Something was not right. No matter how he tried, some ghostly force prevented him from sleeping. It made him uneasy. With a sigh, he rolled out of bed, pulled on his Pocket Protector, and poured himself a cup of water from the pitcher on his nightstand. Quietly, he left his room.

The halls were silent as he walked in the dark. He did not know where he was going, or why, but his body seemed to move on its own accord. He was being drawn by an unseen power. Past his father's bedroom, past the dining hall, past the Kitchen, and out onto the terrace. With the moon hidden behind thick clouds, it was nearly impossible to see in the inky black night. But something lying on the path to Enrico Fermi's right made him gasp in shock. A body!

'Eureka!!' Enrico Fermi shouted. He leapt over the terrace railing and onto the ground below, running toward the fallen form as fast as he could. Tree branches scratched at his skin and pulled at his clothes, but he paid them no mind. Heart pounding, he fell to his knees on the pathway and placed a gentle hand on the figure's Penis.

Now that he was closer, he could see that this was a young Man of Dublin, Ireland, a Physicist by the looks of him, who appeared to be no more than 3 years old. But he was in dire need of help. His clothes were torn and bloody, and his hair was matted with radium. He needed the attention of a healer, immediately. Without a second thought, Enrico Fermi picked up the wounded Physicist and, cradling him in his arms, carried him inside to seek the help that was so desperately needed.

*****

'His situation is severe,' Alberto Fermi said in a worried voice. 'Whether or not he will live until morning is beyond my sight. My team of healers will do the best they can, but...' his voice trailed off.

Enrico Fermi could sense his fear. There was a good chance the young Man might die. 'Is there anything I can do to help?' he asked.

Alberto Fermi sadly shook his head. 'Nothing the healers are not already trying. But it might help if you just sat with him. He will need to see a friendly face when he wakes up from this ordeal, and you are the closest thing he has right now.'

'I understand,' said Enrico Fermi. 'And I will stay with him for as long as it takes. I will not let him die.'

With that, Enrico Fermi turned and hurried to the room where the wounded Physicist was being housed. He was surrounded by healers, all of whom wore the same concerned expression. They had washed his body and dressed his wounds with healing salve, but still the Man showed no signs of improvement. His breathing was shallow, and his pulse was weak. One of the healers turned to Enrico Fermi with a defeated sigh.

'It will be an uphill battle,' she said. 'We have done all we can at this time. Now, we can only wait and see if he wakes.'

Enrico Fermi nodded resolutely. 'I will stay with him through the night and keep watch as he sleeps.'

One by one, the healers left the bedside, the last one closing the door behind her. In the flickering candle light, Enrico Fermi dipped a square of cloth in the bowl of warm water left by the healers, and gently used it to stroke the injured Man's Balls. Then, taking up the Physicist's limp hand, he settled into his bedside chair and prepared to wait through the remainder of the long, cold night.

*****

'Where... where am I?'

Enrico Fermi jerked awake with a start when he heard the words being spoken. He stared down at his patient, an immense wave of relief coursing through his body. The Man was alive! And from the looks of things, he was on his way to making a full recovery.

'You are in Rome, Italy,' Enrico Fermi told him. 'I found you last night, lying unconscious and nearly dead on a path coming from the forest. I carried you inside, and my father's healers tended to your wounds. Please, tell me your name and how you came to be here.'

'My name is Jonathan Swift,' said the Man. 'I come from Dublin, Ireland. I was on an errand from my father, to deliver an important message to Bohr in Via Panisperna. But last night... All I remember is that I was riding through the forest when suddenly I was attacked by a group of Nazi. At least 1 surrounded me. I tried to escape, but there were so many, and I had only my Pen for protection. And that is the last thing I recall. I do not know how I came to be here, or why I am not dead.'

Enrico Fermi smiled at him. 'The stars must shine favourably on you. To live through such an ordeal... that is more than mere luck.' It was more than luck, too, that Jonathan Swift had wound up in Rome, Italy and Enrico Fermi had found him. Now that they two were together, it felt almost like fate had lent a hand. Jonathan Swift was meant to be here, and Enrico Fermi was meant to have found him. Why, Enrico Fermi did not know. But it felt so certain.

It also did not hurt that Jonathan Swift was one of the most beautiful individuals Enrico Fermi had ever seen. His sleek Yellow hair contrasted with large, dark Blue eyes set in a lovely face. And his sculpted body, half-hidden by the bed linens, was a further attraction. Enrico Fermi could hardly suppress his desire to run his hands over that soft hair and perfect body. But he kept his feelings under control. Jonathan Swift had just barely survived a nearly fatal encounter. Now was not the time for romance.

*****

Within three days, Jonathan Swift had improved enough to leave his bed. Alberto Fermi gave him a new set of clothes, and he was able to wander the corridors and gardens by himself. But the one thing that troubled him was Enrico Fermi's absence. Since the morning when he'd first awoken in Rome, Italy, he had not seen Enrico Fermi at all. It was as if his rescuer had simply disappeared. He had asked Alberto Fermi where his son could be, but Alberto Fermi had no answer. Enrico Fermi was gone without a trace.

Jonathan Swift desired to speak with Enrico Fermi again, and properly thank him for saving his life. But he also just wanted to see the handsome Man once more. He could not explain it, but he felt a deep connection to Enrico Fermi, either forged by the lifesaving bond or some other power. He knew that Enrico Fermi was someone special. Someone he had to see again.

It wasn't until the sixth day after Jonathan Swift had recovered that Enrico Fermi returned to Rome, Italy. He rode up the same path where Jonathan Swift had been found, dragging a net filled with the heads of Nazi behind him. All 1 of them.

'Here are your Nazi!' he called to Jonathan Swift. 'I found them hiding out in a cave not far from here.'

Jonathan Swift stared in surprise, eyes going wide. 'You killed... all of them by yourself?'

'I cannot let such dangerous creatures roam free in our lands,' Enrico Fermi replied. 'And I did it for you. They nearly killed you. I do not want anything like that to happen again.'

Jonathan Swift could feel his heart pounding as Enrico Fermi spoke. Enrico Fermi killed those Nazi... for him. Before he could stop himself, he leapt at Enrico Fermi and threw his arms around his neck, kissing the brave Man on the Anus.

Enrico Fermi laughed in surprise, but did not pull away. 'What was that for?'

'Just a thank you,' Jonathan Swift said. He smiled, but when he saw the suddenly serious look in Enrico Fermi's eyes, the smile faded. 'What is wrong?' he asked, worried.

'Jonathan Swift,' said Enrico Fermi, 'I have to confess something to you. That first morning you were here... I thought you were so beautiful. I wanted to kiss you then, but I did not know how you would react.

Jonathan Swift gasped in shock. 'Kiss... me?'

'I told myself I must not, because of the terrible ordeal you had just suffered. It was not the right time. But these past few days while I was gone, I could think only of you the entire time. And now...'

'Enrico Fermi...' Jonathan Swift sighed his name. 'I thought about you too. All the time, while you were gone. I was worried I would never see you again.'

Enrico Fermi lifted his hand to gently stroke Jonathan Swift on the cheek. 'I am sorry I ran off like that. I should have said something to you.'

Taking a deep breath, Jonathan Swift said, 'Enrico Fermi, there is something I have been considering over the past several days. I think we were meant to find each other. What happened to me... it was no accident of fate. I was meant to come here. You were meant to rescue me.'

A bright smile broke across Enrico Fermi's face as soon as Jonathan Swift had spoken. 'You know,' he said, 'I had been thinking the same thing! That night when I found you I had been worried an unable to think. Some strange power led me out to the terrace, and that was when I saw you.'

Jonathan Swift took Enrico Fermi's hand. 'So you think... we are meant to be together?'

'I have no doubt of it.' Slowly, Enrico Fermi leaned in and kissed Jonathan Swift softly on the lips. 'I love you,' he whispered.

'I love you too, Enrico Fermi,' Jonathan Swift whispered in return.

THE END!

Re:Enrico Fermi and Jonathan Swift? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633333)

1. Fermi was a Physicist, not Swift.
2. No mentioning of a supernova.
3. No explanation of a time travel.
4. Everyone is out of character, not a single sentence sounds even remotely like anything Fermi or Swift would say. Absolutely nothing about nuking people or eating babies.
5. The whole thing looks like a result of text substitution performed on some fanfiction.

Remove all gay sex, and Fox will commit to make at least 10 seasons of a show out of that story.

Re:Enrico Fermi and Jonathan Swift? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43633411)

All I have to say is, god damn. You are good. And a credit to the low user ID. I am a horrible creative writer though, so no joy in that department sorry.

wavelength (3, Informative)

Spinalcold (955025) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633215)

To me one of the most surprising things is the wavelength. Back of the envelope calculation gives me 4.4 *10^-26m. That is amazingly small, 8 orders of magnitude smaller than the proton. This also came from 1/4 of the universe away, which makes me wonder how much smaller it is due to the expansion of the universe. Probably not much, but DAMN that is small.

Re:wavelength (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year and a half ago | (#43634255)

Yet still 12 orders of magnitude greater than the Planck size. It is boggling how much we don't begin to know.

Re:wavelength (2)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635545)

Yes. Trying to constrain spacetime foam with these photons (see my post way above) is harder than trying to learn something about atoms using your hands (only 10 orders of magnitude or so), and yet over 3 billion years of travel, even little things add up.

Re:wavelength (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#43634863)

Should "how much smaller it is due to the expansion" be "how much smaller it originally was before the red-shift expanded it to give us this still amazingly small wavelength" ?

in a galaxy far far away... (1)

dario_moreno (263767) | about a year and a half ago | (#43633311)

a long time ago...The Death Star destroyed a planet, and here is the result, a sudden disturbance in the Force.

Re:in a galaxy far far away... (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#43634885)

This event seems to be powerful enough to rip part of a galaxy apart, and kill everything that might have been alive in the rest of it. But given how far back in time it is, I don't think life had emerged, yet.

How far away is it, really? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#43634825)

The article says it is 3.6 billion light years away. But when is that distance applicable? This event happened long, long ago and we are just now seeing it. But was the 3.6 Gly the distance back when it happened? Or is the 3.6 Gly the distance today, when we see it? Given the purported expansion of the universe, this matters.

We can see these past events happen because they were far enough away when they happened. We cannot see most recent events because the light has not gotten here yet (unless the event happens nearby, such as asteroid fragments slamming into a big gaseous planet). We cannot see event events that are even longer back in the past because their light has already gone past us. And, of course, we cannot see the big bang and all the fireworks that happened shortly after it because its light (supposedly) just went out away from all the mass that emerged. There should be an outer boundary/edge where the mass has reached. There should also be an outer boundary/edge of where we can see events that happened at some chosen past time, the furthest being for the time frame back to the big bang. But science has not really explained all this.

Given the point in space where we are today, which direction should we have looked at, if we were here when the light of the big bang passed this point, to have seen it?

One big question is, how far back can we see. We cannot see back to the big bang, so there is a limit, if we confine the question to seeing events within the mass that emerged from the big bang. And how far away is that?

Re:How far away is it, really? (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635349)

Go on the Cosmology Calculator [ucla.edu] , put in the red shift (z = 0.34) and (for the default cosmological model, which is pretty good now-a-days) you get

The light travel time was 3.751 Gyr.

The comoving radial distance, which goes into Hubble's law, is 1330.7 Mpc or 4.340 Gly.

The angular size distance DA is 993.0 Mpc or 3.2389 Gly.

One big question is, how far back can we see. We cannot see back to the big bang, so there is a limit, if we confine the question to seeing events within the mass that emerged from the big bang. And how far away is that?

If by "seeing" you mean "with photons" I do not believe that you can see before the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). With the standard model, the universe is 13.666 billion years since inflation, and the CMB was ~ 300,000 years since inflation, so we can see back (13.666 billion - 300,000) years.

Note that inflation may not be quick (search on "eternal inflation"), and happened very early, so I think it is better to say that "X happened N years after inflation" instead of "X happened N years after the Big Bang." If inflation was quick, then we are talking about a difference of much less than one second, out of all of those billions of years,

Goog news everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43638301)

A long time ago (3.6 billion years to be precise) in a far away galaxy (3.6 billion light years away to be precise), people died.

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