Gamma-ray burst out of dying star creates brightest explosion in universe

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Astronomers detected the massive blast about one billion light years away – a distance close enough to be in our “cosmic backyard”. Usually they happen 20 billion light years away. The experts believe the explosion was the start of the star’s transformation into a black hole.

Gamma-ray bursts are bright X-ray and gamma-ray flashes emitted by distant extragalactic sources.

This one, which originated near the constellation of Eridanus, had the most energetic radiation and the longest gamma-ray afterglow of any to date, namely three days.

It was detected by the satellites Fermi and Swift and the High Energy Stereoscopic System H.E.S.S telescope in Namibia.

Dr Andrew Taylor, co-author of a scientific paper on the explosion, published in the journal Science, said: “We were really sitting in the front row.”

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