NASA's spacecraft spots yet another gamma-ray burst

NASA's Spacecraft Spots Yet Another Gamma-Ray Burst

NASA's gamma-ray-hunting Swift spacecraft just spotted it's 1,000th GRB—the term for a gamma-ray burst.

Neil Gehrels, the Swift principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said, "Detecting GRBs is Swift's bread and butter, and we're now at 1,000 and counting. The spacecraft remains in great shape after nearly 11 years in space, and we expect to see many more GRBs to come."

According to the space agency, "GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe, typically associated with the collapse of a massive star and the birth of a black hole."

GRBs usually last less than a minute and emit bursts of high-energy light.

They're said to occur "every couple of days" and scientists are particularly keen on so-called "exceptional bursts" which provide more opportunities to understand just what's going on.

The pulse spotted by Swift on October 27th was named GRB 151027B and is considered to be of the "long" variety—meaning it lasted more than two seconds.

A NASA report explained what happened after the GRB was identified, "Swift automatically determined its location, broadcast the position to astronomers around the world, and turned to investigate the source with its own sensitive X-ray, ultraviolet and optical telescopes."

RELATED: Click through to see the best photos from the last month in space

Month in Space: Oct. 2015
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NASA's spacecraft spots yet another gamma-ray burst

October 19, 2015

On Oct. 12-13, 2015, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly shared a series of seventeen photographs taken from the International Space Station during a flyover of Australia. This first photo of the series was shared on Twitter with the caption, "#EarthArt in one pass over the #Australian continent. Picture 1 of 17. #YearInSpace". (Photo via NASA)

October 7, 2015

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) captured this photograph of the green lights of the aurora from the International Space Station on Oct. 7, 2015. Sharing with his social media followers, Kelly wrote, "The daily morning dose of #aurora to help wake you up. #GoodMorning from @Space_Station! #YearInSpace"

October 28, 2015

Though dawn creeps over the horizon of the Chilean Atacama Desert, the Milky Way can be seen arching above the four 8-metre Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory. (Photo via A. Russell/ESO)

October 30, 2015

Two stars shine through the center of a ring of cascading dust in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The star system is named DI Cha, and while only two stars are apparent, it is actually a quadruple system containing two sets of binary stars.

As this is a relatively young star system it is surrounded by dust. The young stars are molding the dust into a wispy wrap.

The host of this alluring interaction between dust and star is the Chamaeleon I dark cloud — one of three such clouds that comprise a large star-forming region known as the Chamaeleon Complex. DI Cha's juvenility is not remarkable within this region. In fact, the entire system is among not only the youngest but also the closest collections of newly formed stars to be found and so provides an ideal target for studies of star formation. (Photo via ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt, Caption via European Space Agency)

October 29, 2015

Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly took this photograph during a spacewalk on Oct. 28, 2015. Sharing the image on social media, Kelly wrote, "#SpaceWalkSelfie Back on the grid! Great first spacewalk yesterday. Now on to the next one next week. #YearInSpace" (Photo via NASA)

October 12, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "#EarthArt in one pass over the #Australian continent. Picture 2 of 17. #YearInSpace"

October 21, 2015

This image shows the location of VFTS 352 — the hottest and most massive double star system to date where the two components are in contact and sharing material. The two stars in this extreme system lie about 160 000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This intriguing system could be heading for a dramatic end, either merging to form a single giant star or forming a binary black hole.

This view of the Tarantula star-forming region includes visible-light images from the Wide Field Imager at the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla and infrared images from the 4.1-metre infrared VISTA telescope at Paranal.

(Photo via ESO/M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey, Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit)

October 1, 2015

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto's big moon Charon just before closest approach on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC); the colors are processed to best highlight the variation of surface properties across Charon. Charon’s color palette is not as diverse as Pluto’s; most striking is the reddish north (top) polar region, informally named Mordor Macula. Charon is 754 miles (1,214 kilometers) across; this image resolves details as small as 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers). (Photo via NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

October 23, 2015

Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly): Hurricane #Patricia approaches #Mexico. It's massive. Be careful! #YearInSpace

October 17, 2015

Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly): "#EarthArt Across the Greatest Desert- #Sahara #YearInSpace"

October 1, 2015

This composite of enhanced color images of Pluto (lower right) and Charon (upper left), was taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it passed through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015. This image highlights the striking differences between Pluto and Charon. The color and brightness of both Pluto and Charon have been processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon’s polar red terrain and Pluto’s equatorial red terrain. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). (Photo via NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

October 7, 2015

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter often takes images of Martian sand dunes to study the mobile soils. These images provide information about erosion and movement of surface material, about wind and weather patterns, even about the soil grains and grain sizes. However, looking past the dunes, these images also reveal the nature of the substrate beneath. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

October 2, 2015

Ribbons of dust festoon the galaxy NGC 613 in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 613 is classified as a barred spiral galaxy for the bar-shaped band of stars and dust crossing its intensely glowing center.

As with nearly all spiral galaxies, a monstrous black hole resides at the heart of NGC 613. Its mass is estimated at about 10 times that of the Milky Way's supermassive black hole and it is consuming stars, gas and dust. As this matter descends into the black hole's maw it radiates away energy and spews out radio waves.

(Photo via ESA/Hubble & NASA and S. Smartt (Queen's University Belfast); Acknowledgement: Robert Gendler, Caption via European Space Agency)

October 13, 2015

Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly): "Day 200. Sometimes a little light makes all the difference. #GoodNight from @Space_Station #YearInSpace"

October 21, 2015

This artist’s impression shows VFTS 352 — the hottest and most massive double star system to date where the two components are in contact and sharing material. The two stars in this extreme system lie about 160 000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This intriguing system could be heading for a dramatic end, either with the formation of a single giant star or as a future binary black hole. (Photo via ESO/L. Calçada)

October 5, 2015

This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a location on Mars associated with the best-selling novel and Hollywood movie, "The Martian."

This area is in the Acidalia Planitia region. In the novel and the movie, it is the landing site of a crewed mission named Ares 3. For the story's central character, Acidalia Planitia is within driving distance from where NASA's Mars Pathfinder, with its Sojourner rover, landed in 1997. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

October 20, 2015

Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly): ".@POTUS Nothing like getting a call from you Mr. President. Oleg caught #WashingtonDC lit like stars #AstronomyNight"

October 10, 2015

The dark area across the top of the sun in this image is a coronal hole, a region on the sun where the magnetic field is open to interplanetary space, sending coronal material speeding out in what is called a high-speed solar wind stream. The high-speed solar wind originating from this coronal hole, imaged here on Oct. 10, 2015, by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, created a geomagnetic storm near Earth that resulted in several nights of auroras. This image was taken in wavelengths of 193 Angstroms, which is invisible to our eyes and is typically colorized in bronze. (Photo via NASA/SDO)

October 13, 2015

This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Big Sky" site, where its drill collected the mission's fifth taste of Mount Sharp. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

October 15, 2015

This high-resolution image captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). Pluto’s surface shows a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds. The bright expanse is the western lobe of the “heart,” informally known as Tombaugh Regio. The lobe, informally called Sputnik Planum, has been found to be rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane ices.

October 13, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "#EarthArt A single pass over the #Australian continent. Picture 15 of 17. #YearInSpace"

October 12, 2015

A pair of jets protrude outwards in near-perfect symmetry in this image of Herbig-Haro object (HH) 212, taken by ESO’s already decommissioned Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera (ISAAC).

The object lies in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter) in a dense molecular star-forming region, not far from the famousHorsehead Nebula. In regions like this, clouds of dust and gas collapse under the force of gravity, spinning faster and faster and becoming hotter and hotter until a young star ignites at the cloud’s centre. Any leftover material swirling around the newborn protostar comes together to form an accretion disc that will, under the right circumstances, eventually evolve to form the base material for the creation of planets, asteroids and comets. (Photo via ESO/M. McCaughrean)

October 2, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "Early morning shot of Hurricane #Joaquin from @space_station before reaching #Bahamas. Hope all is safe. #YearInSpace"

October 16, 2015

Just before the 15th anniversary of continuous human presence on the International Space Station on Nov. 2, 2015, U.S. astronaut and commander of the current Expedition 45 crew, Scott Kelly, is breaking spaceflight records. On Friday, Oct. 16, Kelly begins his 383rd day living in space, surpassing U.S. astronaut Mike Fincke’s record. (Photo via NASA)

October 7, 2015

This scarp at the edge of the North Polar layered deposits of Mars is the site of the most frequent frost avalanches seen by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. At this season, northern spring, frost avalanches are common and HiRISE monitors the scarp to learn more about the timing and frequency of the avalanches, and their relationship to the evolution of frost on the flat ground above and below the scarp.

This picture managed to capture a small avalanche in progress, right in the color strip. The small white cloud in front of the brick red cliff is likely carbon dioxide frost dislodged from the layers above, caught in the act of cascading down the cliff. It is larger than it looks, more than 20 meters across, and (based on previous examples) it will likely kick up clouds of dust when it hits the ground. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona, Caption via Paul Geissler)

October 12, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "#EarthArt A single pass over the #Australian continent. Picture 10 of 17. #YearInSpace"

October 27, 2015

The full moon appears to perch atop the peaks of the Chilean Andes, in this spectacular shot from the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. (Photo via ESO/B. Rojas-Ayala)

October 29, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "Day 216. Seeing our world in a new light tonight. #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace"

October 8, 2015

A view from the "Kimberley" formation on Mars taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. The strata in the foreground dip towards the base of Mount Sharp, indicating flow of water toward a basin  that existed before the larger bulk of the mountain formed.

The colors are adjusted so that rocks look approximately as they would if they were on Earth, to help geologists interpret the rocks. This "white balancing" to adjust for the lighting on Mars overly compensates for the absence of blue on Mars, making the sky appear light blue and sometimes giving dark, black rocks a blue cast. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

October 9, 2015

This planetary nebula is called PK 329-02.2 and is located in the constellation of Norma in the southern sky. It is also sometimes referred to as Menzel 2, or Mz 2, named after the astronomer Donald Menzel who discovered the nebula in 1922. (Photo via ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Serge Meunier)

October 26, 2015

Observations by ESO’s planet-finding instrument, SPHERE, a high-contrast adaptive optics system installed on the third Unit Telescope of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, have revealed the edge-on disc of gas and dust present around the binary star system HD 106906AB.

HD 106906AB is a double star located in the constellation of Crux (The Southern Cross). Astronomers had long suspected that this 13 million-year-old stellar duo was encircled by a debris disc, due to the system’s youth and characteristic radiation. However, this disc had remained unseen — until now! The system’s spectacular debris disc can be seen towards the lower left area of this image. It is surrounding both stars, hence its name of circumbinary disc. The stars themselves are hidden behind a mask which prevent their glare from blinding the instrument.

These stars and the disc are also accompanied by an exoplanet, visible in the upper right, named HD 106906 b, which orbits around the binary star and its disc at a distance greater than any other exoplanet discovered to date — 650 times the average Earth–Sun distance, or nearly 97 billion kilometres. HD 106906 b has a mammoth mass of up to 11 times that of Jupiter, and a scorching surface temperature of 1500 degrees Celsius

(Photo via ESO, A. M. Lagrange (Université Grenoble Alpes))

October 19, 2015

Saturn's dynamic F ring contains many different types of features to keep scientists perplexed. In this image we see features ring scientists call "gores," to the right of the bright clump, and a "jet," to the left of the bright spot.

Thanks to the ring's interaction with the moons Prometheus and Pandora, and perhaps a host of smaller moonlets hidden in its core, the F ring is a constantly changing structure, with features that form, fade and re-appear on timescales of hours to days. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

October 15, 2015

Antarctic sea ice likely reached its annual maximum extent on Oct. 6, barring a late season surge. This video shows the evolution of the sea ice cover of the Southern Ocean from its minimum yearly extent to its peak extent. (Photo via NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

October 28, 2015

Damaging heavy rains fell on South Carolina in the southeastern United States at the beginning of October 2015. Much of that water had, by mid-October, flowed into the Atlantic Ocean bringing with it heavy loads of sediment, nutrients, and dissolved organic material. The above VIIRS image shows the runoff as it interacts with ocean currents. (Photo via NASA/Goddard/SuomiNPP/VIIRS via NASA's OceanColor)

October 16, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "Day 203. #GoodNight to the #Himalayas from @space_station! I'm sure I'll see you again. #YearInSpace"

October 15, 2015

NASA's Cassini spacecraft zoomed by Saturn's icy moon Enceladus on Oct. 14, 2015, capturing this stunning image of the moon's north pole. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

October 21, 2015

The galaxy cluster MS 0735.6+7421 is home to one of the most powerful eruptions ever observed. X-rays detected by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory (blue) show the hot gas that comprises much of the mass of this enormous object. This image is part of a collection of new images released from the Chandra archive to celebrate American Archive Month. (Photo via NASA)

October 23, 2015

This image shows the galaxy Messier 94, which lies in the small northern constellation of the Hunting Dogs, about 16 million light-years away.

Within the bright ring or starburst ring around Messier 94, new stars are forming at a high rate and many young, bright stars are present within it.

The cause of this peculiarly shaped star-forming region is likely a pressure wave going outwards from the galactic center, compressing the gas and dust in the outer region. The compression of material means the gas starts to collapse into denser clouds. Inside these dense clouds, gravity pulls the gas and dust together until temperature and pressure are high enough for stars to be born. (Caption via European Space Agency, Photo via ESA/NASA)

October 27, 2015

Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly tries on his spacesuit for a fit check inside the U.S. Quest airlock of the International Space Station. Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren will venture outside the station for a pair of spacewalks on Wednesday, Oct. 28 and Friday, Nov. 6. (Photo via NASA)

October 26, 2015

Enceladus is a world divided. To the north, the terrain is covered in impact craters, much like other icy moons. But to the south, the record of impact cratering is much more sparse, and instead the land is covered in fractures, ropy or hummocky terrain and long, linear features. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

October 6, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "#Houston, looks like great weather down there! Although, I'd be fine with any weather. #GoodMorning! #YearInSpace"

October 10, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "#EarthArt In 377 cumulative days in space, I've never seen this before today. #YearInSpace"

Full moon rises over a chapel next to a vineyard near Bergtheim, southern Germany, on October 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

October 29, 2015

In September, the New Horizons team released a stunning but incomplete image of Pluto’s crescent. Thanks to new processing work by the science team, New Horizons is releasing the entire, breathtaking image of Pluto.

This image was made just 15 minutes after New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, as the spacecraft looked back at Pluto toward the sun. The wide-angle perspective of this view shows the deep haze layers of Pluto's atmosphere extending all the way around Pluto, revealing the silhouetted profiles of rugged plateaus on the night (left) side. The shadow of Pluto cast on its atmospheric hazes can also be seen at the uppermost part of the disk. On the sunlit side of Pluto (right), the smooth expanse of the informally named icy plain Sputnik Planum is flanked to the west (above, in this orientation) by rugged mountains up to 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline.  Below (east) of Sputnik, rougher terrain is cut by apparent glaciers.

The backlighting highlights more than a dozen high-altitude layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere. (Photo via NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)


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