On April 27, the Swift Burst Alert Telescope—an instrument aboard the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory satellite, launched into low Earth orbit in 2004—detected a sequence of gamma radiation bursts from the remnants of an ancient star within our galaxy, 30,000 light years from Earth. The energy was emanating from a celestial body known as a soft gamma repeater, which emits a recurring pattern of gamma and x-ray radiation. Known as SGR 1935+2154 (the name indicating coordinates in the sky), it was the eighth soft gamma repeater discovered since March 5, 1979, when a wave of gamma radiation 2000 times the baseline tripped multiple sensors in our solar system, including two Soviet Venus probes, a joint German-U.S. sun probe and the Vela satellites put up by the Department of Defense to detect nuclear detonations. But subsequent observations of SGR 1935+2154 revealed something new: phenomena previously recorded only from distant galaxies, providing data that may confirm the source of intensely “bright” radio signals, called fast radio bursts—or FRBs—that flare for mere thousandths of a second. A few hours after detection, the Swift team reported a “forest of bursts” to The Astronomer’s Telegram , where astronomers from around the world share newly observed… Read full this story
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