October 14, 2019

07.04.11: Catching a Black Hole in the Act.

NASA’s swift spacecraft caught something interesting on the night of March 28th, 2011. Launched in 2004, the spacecraft is designed to detect extragalactic x-ray and gamma-ray flashes. And what a flash they caught in GRB 110328A; a burst four billion light years distant that peaked at a brightness one trillion times that of our own Sun. But what’s truly interesting was that the power curve seen by astronomers was consistent with a galactic mass black hole devouring a star. Word on the astro-street from the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait is that a yet to be released set of Hubble follow up images of the region seem consistent with the burst occurring near the core of a distant galaxy. In addition, NASA’s Fermi satellite, which also watches for gamma-ray bursts, has detected no past activity from the galaxy in question; this was an individual event without precedent. Did astronomers witness a “death by black hole” of a star? Perhaps such an event could occur if a nearby passage of another star put the body on a doomsday orbit. And interesting side note; astronomers established a thread to track GRBs in another pair of science/astronomy blogs that you might have heard of, the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today bulletin board. Much of the initial discovery and follow-up action occurred here, a forum worth following. And they say, “What good is blogging…”

 

Comments

  1. Don Alexander says:

    “astronomers established a thread to track GRBs in another pair of science/astronomy blogs that you might have heard of, the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today bulletin board. Much of the initial discovery and follow-up action occurred here, a forum worth following. And they say, “What good is blogging…””

    Sorry, but that’s a COMPLETE misconception.

    The “initial discovery and follow-up action” occurred, as it always does for GRBs, on the GCN (Gamma-ray burst Coordinates Network) Circulars, an electronic mailing list with which the GRB community exchanges information on observations (http://gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/gcn3_archive.html). It’s public, anyone can read the circulars, but actually writing them is restricted to a vouched whitelist.

    After a few days, when the Berkeley team around Josh Bloom published the Tidal Disruption Mini-Blazar interpretation, I opened the thread on BAUTforum (which is a forum, not a blog – and a single one, not a pair, it merged years ago) presenting the facts and interpretation at that time. This then led to another BAUTforum member to observe the source, we then analyzed the data and also published a GCN circular on it. That was all.

    The whole rest which is described in the recent NASA press release (Swift, Hubble, Chandra etc.) had absolutely nothing to do with BAUTforum.

    So much for blogging.

    D. A. Kann

  2. David Dickinson says:

    Thanks, for expanding on this post; the idea that the distinction between a “forum” and a “blog” is not included in the explanation is also a COMPLETE misconception, as it is labeled as such in the post… and if it had been anounced in a blog, whats so bad about that?

    So much for commenters,

    D. A. Dickinson

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