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From: ScienceDaily (1:317/3)
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Date: Mon, 26.07.21 23:30
Supernova's 'fizzled' gamma-ray burst
Supernova's 'fizzled' gamma-ray burst

July 26, 2021
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected
a pulse of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth
for nearly half the present age of the universe. Lasting only
about a second, it turned out to be one for the record books --
the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive
star ever seen.

On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse
of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth for nearly
half the present age of the universe. Lasting only about a second, it
turned out to be one for the record books -- the shortest gamma-ray burst
(GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen.

GRBs are the most powerful events in the universe, detectable across
billions of light-years. Astronomers classify them as long or short
based on whether the event lasts for more or less than two seconds. They
observe long bursts in association with the demise of massive stars,
while short bursts have been linked to a different scenario.

"We already knew some GRBs from massive stars could register as short
GRBs, but we thought this was due to instrumental limitations," said
Bin-bin Zhang at Nanjing University in China and the University of
Nevada, Las Vegas. "This burst is special because it is definitely a
short-duration GRB, but its other properties point to its origin from a
collapsing star. Now we know dying stars can produce short bursts, too."
Named GRB 200826A, after the date it occurred, the burst is the subject of
two papers published in Nature Astronomy on Monday, July 26. The first,
led by Zhang, explores the gamma-ray data. The second, led by Toma's
Ahumada, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College
Park and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland,
describes the GRB's fading multiwavelength afterglow and the emerging
light of the supernova explosion that followed.

"We think this event was effectively a fizzle, one that was close to not
happening at all," Ahumada said. "Even so, the burst emitted 14 million
times the energy released by the entire Milky Way galaxy over the same
amount of time, making it one of the most energetic short-duration
GRBs ever seen." When a star much more massive than the Sun runs out
of fuel, its core suddenly collapses and forms a black hole. As matter
swirls toward the black hole, some of it escapes in the form of two
powerful jets that rush outward at almost the speed of light in opposite
directions. Astronomers only detect a GRB when one of these jets happens
to point almost directly toward Earth.

Each jet drills through the star, producing a pulse of gamma rays -- the
highest-energy form of light -- that can last up to minutes. Following
the burst, the disrupted star then rapidly expands as a supernova.

Short GRBs, on the other hand, form when pairs of compact objects --
such as neutron stars, which also form during stellar collapse -- spiral
inward over billions of years and collide. Fermi observations recently
helped show that, in nearby galaxies, giant flares from isolated,
supermagnetized neutron stars also masquerade as short GRBs.

GRB 200826A was a sharp blast of high-energy emission lasting just
0.65 second.

After traveling for eons through the expanding universe, the signal had
stretched out to about one second long when it was detected by Fermi's
Gamma- ray Burst Monitor. The event also appeared in instruments aboard
NASA's Wind mission, which orbits a point between Earth and the Sun
located about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) away, and Mars
Odyssey, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2001. ESA's (the
European Space Agency's) INTEGRAL satellite observed the blast as well.

All of these missions participate in a GRB-locating system called the
InterPlanetary Network (IPN), for which the Fermi project provides
all U.S.

funding. Because the burst reaches each detector at slightly different
times, any pair of them can be used to help narrow down where in the
sky it occurred.

About 17 hours after the GRB, the IPN narrowed its location to a
relatively small patch of the sky in the constellation Andromeda.

Using the National Science Foundation-funded Zwicky Transient Facility
(ZTF) at Palomar Observatory, the team scanned the sky for changes in
visible light that could be linked to the GRB's fading afterglow.

"Conducting this search is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack,
but the IPN helps shrink the haystack," said Shreya Anand, a graduate
student at Caltech and a co-author on the afterglow paper. "Out of more
than 28,000 ZTF alerts the first night, only one met all of our search
criteria and also appeared within the sky region defined by the IPN."
Within a day of the burst, NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory
discovered fading X-ray emission from this same location. A couple of
days later, variable radio emission was detected by the National Radio
Astronomy Observatory's Karl Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico. The
team then began observing the afterglow with a variety of ground-based

Observing the faint galaxy associated with the burst using the Gran
Telescopio Canarias, a 10.4-meter telescope at the Roque de los
Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands, the team
showed that its light takes 6.6 billion years to reach us. That's 48%
of the universe's current age of 13.8 billion years.

But to prove this short burst came from a collapsing star, the researchers
also needed to catch the emerging supernova.

"If the burst was caused by a collapsing star, then once the afterglow
fades away it should brighten again because of the underlying supernova
explosion," said Leo Singer, a Goddard astrophysicist and Ahumada's
research advisor. "But at these distances, you need a very big and very
sensitive telescope to pick out the pinpoint of light from the supernova
from the background glare of its host galaxy." To conduct the search,
Singer was granted time on the 8.1-meter Gemini North telescope in Hawaii
and the use of a sensitive instrument called the Gemini Multi-Object
Spectrograph. The astronomers imaged the host galaxy in red and infrared
light starting 28 days after the burst, repeating the search 45 and
80 days after the event. They detected a near-infrared source -- the
supernova - - in the first set of observations that could not be seen
in later ones.

The researchers suspect that this burst was powered by jets that barely
emerged from the star before they shut down, instead of the more typical
case where long-lasting jets break out of the star and travel considerable
distances from it. If the black hole had fired off weaker jets, or if
the star was much larger when it began its collapse, there might not
have been a GRB at all.

The discovery helps resolve a long-standing puzzle. While long GRBs
must be coupled to supernovae, astronomers detect far greater numbers of
supernovae than they do long GRBs. This discrepancy persists even after
accounting for the fact that GRB jets must tip nearly into our line of
sight for astronomers to detect them at all.

The researchers conclude that collapsing stars producing short GRBs
must be marginal cases whose light-speed jets teeter on the brink of
success or failure, a conclusion consistent with the notion that most
massive stars die without producing jets and GRBs at all. More broadly,
this result clearly demonstrates that a burst's duration alone does not
uniquely indicate its origin.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle
physics partnership managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Maryland. Fermi was developed in collaboration with the
U.S. Department of Energy, with important contributions from academic
institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden,
and the United States.

Story Source: Materials provided by
NASA/Goddard_Space_Flight_Center. Original written by Francis Reddy. Note:
Content may be edited for style and length.

Related Multimedia:
Journal References:
1. B.-B. Zhang, Z.-K. Liu, Z.-K. Peng, Y. Li, H.-J. Lu", J. Yang, Y.-S.

Yang, Y.-H. Yang, Y.-Z. Meng, J.-H. Zou, H.-Y. Ye, X.-G. Wang,
J.-R. Mao, X.-H. Zhao, J.-M. Bai, A. J. Castro-Tirado, Y.-D. Hu,
Z.-G. Dai, E.-W.

Liang, B. Zhang. A peculiarly short-duration gamma-ray burst
from massive star core collapse. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI:
10.1038/s41550-021- 01395-z
2. Toma's Ahumada, Leo P. Singer, Shreya Anand, Michael W. Coughlin,
M. Kasliwal, Geoffrey Ryan, Igor Andreoni, S. Bradley Cenko,
Christoffer Fremling, Harsh Kumar, Peter T. H. Pang, Eric
Burns, Virginia Cunningham, Simone Dichiara, Tim Dietrich,
Dmitry S. Svinkin, Mouza Almualla, Alberto J. Castro-Tirado,
Kishalay De, Rachel Dunwoody, Pradip Gatkine, Erica Hammerstein,
Shabnam Iyyani, Joseph Mangan, Dan Perley, Sonalika Purkayastha,
Eric Bellm, Varun Bhalerao, Bryce Bolin, Mattia Bulla, Christopher
Cannella, Poonam Chandra, Dmitry A. Duev, Dmitry Frederiks,
Avishay Gal-Yam, Matthew Graham, Anna Y. Q. Ho, Kevin Hurley,
Viraj Karambelkar, Erik C. Kool, S. R. Kulkarni, Ashish Mahabal,
Frank Masci, Sheila McBreen, Shashi B. Pandey, Simeon Reusch,
Anna Ridnaia, Philippe Rosnet, Benjamin Rusholme, Ana Sague's
Carracedo, Roger Smith, Maayane Soumagnac, Robert Stein,
Eleonora Troja, Anastasia Tsvetkova, Richard Walters, Azamat
F. Valeev. Discovery and confirmation of the shortest gamma-ray
burst from a collapsar. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/

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