GRB 130427A: A Nearby Ordinary Monster

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Science  03 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6166, pp. 48-51
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242279

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Bright Lights

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), bright flashes of gamma-ray light, are thought to be associated with the collapse of massive stars. GRB 130427A was detected on 27 April 2013, and it had the longest gamma-ray duration and one of the largest isotropic energy releases observed to date (see the Perspective by Fynbo). Ackermann et al. (p. 42, published online 21 November) report data obtained with the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, which reveal a high-energy spectral component that cannot be accounted for by the standard external shock synchrotron radiation model. Vestrand et al. (p. 38, published online 21 November) report the detection of an extremely bright flash of visible light and unexpected similarities between the variations of optical light and the highest-energy gamma rays that indicate a common origin. A detailed analysis of the first pulse of GRB 130427A by Preece et al. (p. 51, published online 21 November) suggests that existing models cannot explain all the observed spectral and temporal behaviors simultaneously. Maselli et al. (p. 48, published online 21 November) present x-ray and optical light curves of the burst's prompt emission as well as of its afterglow as recorded by the Swift satellite and a range of ground-based telescopes.


Long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are an extremely rare outcome of the collapse of massive stars and are typically found in the distant universe. Because of its intrinsic luminosity (L ∼ 3 × 1053 ergs per second) and its relative proximity (z = 0.34), GRB 130427A reached the highest fluence observed in the γ-ray band. Here, we present a comprehensive multiwavelength view of GRB 130427A with Swift, the 2-meter Liverpool and Faulkes telescopes, and by other ground-based facilities, highlighting the evolution of the burst emission from the prompt to the afterglow phase. The properties of GRB 130427A are similar to those of the most luminous, high-redshift GRBs, suggesting that a common central engine is responsible for producing GRBs in both the contemporary and the early universe and over the full range of GRB isotropic energies.

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