News FocusAstronomy

Scrambling to Read the Meaning Of the Sky's Most Ancient Flare

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Science  18 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5947, pp. 1494-1495
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_1494

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This spring, astronomers detected GRB 090423, the most distant gamma ray burst they had ever seen. Its redshift of 8.2 shows that it went off a mere 625 million years after the big bang, proving that the universe had already come alive with stars when it was less than 5% of its present age. GRB 090423's discovery and the ensuing race to publish observations offer a glimpse into 21st century astronomy—a high-stakes pursuit in which communications networks make possible worldwide, round-the-clock collaborations, and pressures for cooperation and competition often come into simultaneous play.