Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Is a Telescope If Not a Time Machine?

If you haven't heard, scientists last week watched a star explode 13 billion years ago. Actually, they didn't really watch it. They detected some gamma rays and infrared radiation. From

(CNN) -- Edo Berger got an alert early last Thursday morning when a satellite detected a 10-second blast of energy known as a gamma ray burst coming from outer space.

Telescopes around the world swiveled to focus on the explosion, soon picking up infrared radiation, which is produced after gamma rays in this kind of event. Berger was ready to view the visible light, which should have followed.

It never arrived.

"We were kind of blown away. We immediately knew what that meant," Berger said.

What it meant was that he was looking at the oldest thing ever spotted -- an enormous star exploding 13 billion years ago.

The star was between 30 and 100 times larger than the sun and exploded 600 million years after the universe formed. Radiation from the explosion reached us last week. That's fantastic.

Next order of business: coming up with a better name for this deceased oldest known star in the universe than GRB 090423.


Anonymous Kevin said...

Doesn't their telescope have a little sticker on the side warning them not to look directly at the GRB 090423?

6:20 AM  

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