News FocusGAMMA RAY BURSTS

Cosmic Mystery Objects Start to Yield Secrets

Science  30 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5548, pp. 1816-1817
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5548.1816

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Summary

At a recent workshop, researchers presented evidence that the mysterious flashes of high-energy radiation known as cosmic gamma ray bursts are surprisingly frequent--one pops off somewhere in the universe every single minute--and that the bursts may be closer kin to normal supernova explosions than scientists had assumed. Soon, experts hope, these bright beacons might be used to study the first generation of stars, the origin of the large-scale structure of the universe, the history of the cosmic star-formation rate, and the chemical evolution of the universe.