This Article is From Apr 11, 2015

Research Reveals Universe's Most Powerful Explosions

Research Reveals Universe's Most Powerful Explosions

Representational image.


Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) in the universe are rare explosions that happen when extremely massive stars go supernova. A study provides an inside look at the most powerful explosions in the universe.

The stars' strong magnetic fields channel most of the explosion's energy into two powerful plasma jets, one at each magnetic pole.

The jets spray energetic particles for light-years in both directions, at close to light speed.

On the Earth, we detect bits of the resulting debris as gamma rays. The amount of debris that reaches the Earth depends on how energetic the star is and how far away it is.

Researchers suspect that GRBs are the source of at least some of the cosmic rays and neutrinos that pepper our planet from space.

By building some of the most detailed computer simulations ever made of a GRB jet's internal structure, physicists at the Ohio State University and their colleagues have been able to model particle production inside of it.

They found that the non-uniform internal structure of the jets is key to determining the emission of the different kinds of astroparticles.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, also raises new questions that can be answered only by the next generation of neutrino telescopes.

Astrophysicists then can use the model to refine notions of GRB internal structure and better understand the sources of cosmic particles detected on the Earth.