…Since the Big One

Six years ago, astronomers accidentally spotted a huge explosion in space. That’s not new (nor is it news – happens nearly every day, actually). But this one was just a bit different – it expended all it’s energy in about 5 one-thousandths of a second.

No previously-detected cosmic radio burst has the same set of characteristics. “This burst represents an entirely new astronomical phenomenon,” Bailes said.[…]

Although the nature of the mysterious new object is unclear, the astronomers have some ideas of what may cause such a burst. One idea is that it may be part of the energy released when a pair of superdense neutron stars collide and merge. Such an event is thought by some scientists to be the cause of one type of gamma-ray burst, but the only radio emission seen so far from these has been from the long-lived “afterglow” that follows the original burst.

Now that’s new!

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