Deep space explosion that hit Earth with blast of energy leaves Nasa ‘rattled’

The cause of a “game-changing” cosmic explosion that left experts "rattled" has been revealed by a team of scientists.

This week, we reported Earth had been hit by a massive blast of energy from more than a billion light-years away.

One scientist said the event – named GRB 211211A – “looks unlike anything else we have seen before" and could change how we understand the way stars live and die.

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The event was detected in December 2021 by NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

The burst was significantly longer than average – something which could suggest it had been produced by the collapse of a massive star into a supernova.

Now, according to The Mirror, a NASA report has said the blast "rattled" experts' understanding of the universe. A team of scientists said the explosion had been caused by the collision of two super-dense stars.

Regina Caputo, Swift project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said: “This result underscores the importance of our missions working together and with others to provide multiwavelength follow up of these kinds of phenomenon.

“Similar coordinated efforts have hinted that some supernovae might produce short bursts, but this event is the final nail in the coffin for the simple dichotomy we’ve used for years. You never know when you might find something surprising.”

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Jillian Rastinejad, a graduate student at Northwestern University, who led one team that studied the burst, added: "Its gamma rays resemble those of bursts produced by the collapse of massive stars.

“Given that all other confirmed neutron star mergers we have observed have been accompanied by bursts lasting less than two seconds, we had every reason to expect this 50-second GRB was created by the collapse of a massive star.

“This event represents an exciting paradigm shift for gamma-ray burst astronomy."

Dr Matt Nicholl, an associate professor at the University of Birmingham, went on: “We found that this one event produced about 1,000 times the mass of the Earth in very heavy elements. This supports the idea that these kilonovae are the main factories of gold in the universe.”

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