An energetic explosion in the cosmos has been discovered via its not-so-energetic afterglow.
2-meter telescope in Southern California spotted a visible-light flash that brightened dramatically within about an hour, fitting the profile of a burst's afterglow.
K, said that just four minutes after it received Swift's trigger, the telescope found the burst's visible afterglow and began making thousands of measurements.
Over the following 10 minutes, RINGO2 collected 5,600 photographs of the burst afterglow while the properties of the magnetic field were still encoded in its captured light.
Nearly all the afterglows
that astronomers have detected come from gamma-ray bursts that arose in galaxies that lie 2 billion to 8 billion light-years away.
fade rapidly, we really had to scramble when we received the alert," Perley said.
Swift autonomously locked onto the location, and the satellite focused its onboard telescopes in less than a minute to capture the burst afterglow
Previous X-ray images had captured a burst's afterglow
, but not the burst itself, notes Swift principal investigator Neil Gehrels of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
22 burst and its X-ray afterglow
, first detected by the Italian satellite BeppoSAX, was also examined by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Loeb estimates that less than 1 percent of all afterglows
are magnified by a lens.
If the new models are correct, afterglows
should be visible much more often than the bursts themselves.
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Within an hour, astronomers began training ground-based telescopes on the same patch of sky to study the burst's infrared afterglow
Detecting the afterglow
of a distant gamma-ray burst isn't as daunting a task as it might at first appear.