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Watching the Universe's Second Biggest Bang

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Science  26 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5410, pp. 2003-2004
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5410.2003

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On 23 January, astronomers witnessed a cataclysmic event in a distant galaxy, an explosion with an energy second only to that of the big bang itself that spawned the most luminous gamma ray burst (GRB) ever seen. The observations are yielding new clues to the nature of these bursts, which have been a puzzle for decades. The power and visible-light display of GRB 990123 have now made it an astrophysical celebrity, the subject of no fewer than six papers in today's Science and next week's Nature.