Mysterious Blast, Hyernova
Mysterious Blast, Hypernova
Gamma-ray bursts (GRB) have left astronomers scratching their heads since the late 1960s when they were discovered by U.S. military satellites. Part of the mystery began to unlock when astronomers at Northwestern University detected the first observational evidence for the remnants of hypernovae, explosions hundreds of times more powerful than supernovae, last year. Hypernovae may be the possible source of GRBs, making them the most energetic events known in the Universe besides the Big Bang.
Northwestern astronomer Daniel Wang identified two hypernova remnants in galaxy M101, also known as the Pinwheel galaxy some 25 million light years away, in April 1999. The remnants were previously thought to be supernovae remnants, but Wang detected strong X-ray emission from them which led him to believe it was an explosion much more powerful than a supernova. One nebula, MF83, has a radius of over 430 light years and is one of the largest remnants known. The other nebula, NGC5471B, is expanding very fast at a velocity of 100 miles per second. The X-ray light from these nebulae is brighter than the brightest supernova remnants known. After Wang calculated the energy needed to produce
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