Record gamma-ray burst is caught on video

The European Southern Observatory has published a record compiled from images taken by the Very Large Telescope (VLT). It shows the appearance and attenuation of the GRB 221009A gamma-ray burst.

GRB 221009A was recorded on October 9, 2022, by the Swift and Fermi gamma-ray observatories. The event amazed astronomers with the amount of energy released. GRB 221009A literally blinded the detectors of space telescopes. It turned out to be 70 times brighter than any other gamma-ray burst observed before.

A few hours later, VLT was targeted at the burst site. It managed to obtain the spectrum of GRB 221009A and prove that its source was located outside the Milky Way. During the subsequent analysis, astronomers were able to establish that the burst occurred at a distance of 2.4 billion light-years from Earth. This is much closer to a typical gamma-ray burst.

Knowing the distance also allowed astronomers to estimate the brightness of GRB 221009A. It turns out to be so powerful that even now observatories can still observe its residual afterglow. GRB 221009A was the brightest gamma-ray burst of the entire space age. According to various estimates, such powerful and close to Earth events occur no more often than once every 1,000 – 10,000 years.

Curiously, so far astronomers are not sure what exactly has caused GRB 221009A. Such long gamma-ray bursts are usually associated with supernova outbreaks. But the James Webb and Hubble telescopes have so far failed to find any objects at the site of the alleged explosion.

According to

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