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Brightest of a sequence of images of the gamma ray burst
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of ROTSE

Scientists Image Gamma Ray Burst As It Occurs
News story originally written on January 30, 1999

Last week scientists took the first pictures of a gamma ray burst as it was happening.

The burst was first detected by the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BASTE) aboard the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Less than 22 seconds later, scientists with the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE) began to take pictures of the event. Then the burst reached peak intensity in only five seconds.

Before this last event, scientists had only been able to catch the fading glow of a gamma ray burst. Hopefully these images and other collected using similar automated detection systems will help scientists determine what causes these bursts.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA