An artist's illustration of a gamma-ray burst, an energetic blast of jets that fly at nearly the speed of light from a massive star collapsing into a black hole. New research has revealed more about how the blasts are generated and how they evolve over time.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
An ultrapowerful, superfast explosion in space is providing new insight into how dying stars turn into black holes.
An international team of researchers looked at a gamma-ray explosion called GRB 160625B that brightened the sky in June 2016. Gamma-ray bursts are among the most powerful explosions in the universe, but they are typically tough to track because they are very short-lived (sometimes lasting just a few milliseconds).
"Gamma-ray bursts are catastrophic events, related to the explosion of massive stars 50 times the size of our sun," said Eleonora Troja, lead author of the new study and an assistant research scientist in astronomy at University of Maryland. "If you ranked all the explosions in the universe based on their power, gamma-ray bursts would be right behind the Big Bang." [Record Breaking Gamma-Ray Burst Captured By Fermi (Video)]