PerspectiveAstronomy

An Exceptionally Bright Gamma-Ray Burst

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Science  03 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6166, pp. 34-35
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248522

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Summary

When Tycho Brahe in November 1572 discovered a bright new star in the sky, he described it as the greatest miracle since the creation of the world (1). At that time, the world of stars was believed to be fixed and eternal. What Brahe had discovered was a supernova—an energetic cosmic explosion marking the end of a star's life. In this issue, four papers on pages 48, 51, 38, and 42 report on the discovery of one of the most violent cosmic explosions ever recorded (25). The event is a very energetic gamma-ray burst (GRB) associated with the supernova explosion of a massive star in a tiny galaxy in the constellation of Leo detected on 27 April 2013 (6, 7). A suite of satellites and ground-based observatories studied the emission from this burst at wavelengths ranging from radio waves over visible light to very high-energy γ-rays. The dataset provides an unprecedented opportunity to test and improve models of this spectacular class of cosmic explosions.