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This bright image shows a gamma-ray burst.
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Corel Photography

An Unexpected View
News story originally written on October 3, 1997

The NEAR (Near-Earth Asteroid Rendevous) spacecraft took a big step in figuring out the mysteries behind gamma-ray bursts. Gamma-rays are high-energy particles which come from these explosions.

Gamma-ray bursts are a big mystery in astronomy. They were discovered over 30 years ago. Scientists can't figure out what makes these bursts of gamma-rays or where they are coming from.

The NEAR spacecraft was on its way to visit an asteroid. Scientists decided that this would be a great time to turn on the gamma-ray detector. The detector on NEAR measured the first gamma-ray burst on September 15. Six more bursts have been detected since then.

Hopefully, with the help of the NEAR spacecraft, scientists will be able to solve the mysteries that lie behind these bursts.

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