Gamma-ray Burst (Encyclopedia of Science)
Gamma-ray bursts are unexplained intense flashes of light that occur several times a day in distant galaxies. The bursts give off more light than anything else in the universe and then quickly fade away. They were first detected in the late 1960s when instruments on orbiting satellites picked them up. No known explosion besides the big bang is more powerful than a gamma-ray burst. (The big bang is a theory that explains the beginning of the universe as a tremendous explosion from a single point that occurred 12 to 15 billion years ago.) Gamma-ray bursts are mysterious because scientists do not know for sure what causes them or where in the sky they will occur.
Types of bursts
There are two types of gamma-ray bursts: short and long. Short bursts last no more than two seconds. Long bursts can last up to just over fifteen minutes. The shorter life of a short gamma-ray burst makes it more difficult for astronomers to study. Short bursts leave no trace of light because they have no detectable afterglow (a gleam of light that remains briefly after the original light has dissipated). In addition, weaker gamma-ray
(The entire section is 878 words.)
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