Open Questions: Gamma-Ray Astronomy

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See also: Supernovae, Neutron stars and pulsars

Introduction

Gamma-ray astronomy

The collapsar model

X-ray flashes


Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books

Introduction



Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes


Sites with general resources

Gamma-Ray Bursts
Part of NASA's High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center. Contains images, spectra, and light curves related to gamma ray bursts.
Integral Science Operations Centre
Web site for the INTERGAL project, a satellite gamma-ray observatory operated by the European Space Agency. The observatory studies supernovae, black holes, and neutron stars, in addition to gamma ray bursts. More information is here.
ESA Science & Technology: Integral
Provides general information, explanation of the background science, and news releases realted to the Integral mission.
INTEGRAL Science Data Centre
Site contains information about scientific research conducted using INTEGRAL. Includes a public outreach section, with a glossary and external links.
The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission
Provides general information and news related to NASA's Swift mission, which was launched November 20, 2004. Additional NASA informaion (latest news) on Swift is here.
The Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer Mission
Web site belonging to the Swift team at Penn State University. Provides some general informaion on gamma ray bursts and the Swift mission. There's also information on the Swift Ultraviolet Optical Telescope.
Swift Education and Public Outreach
Web site maintained by Sonoma State University. Provides "information about the various projects being done by the Swift E/PO group, as well as cool science, mathematics, and technology learning experiences."
UK Swift Science Data Center
UK portal for information on the Swift mission, at the University of Leicester. Has a nice 1-page overview of the subjects, and good external links.
ASDC Swift Home Page
Swift mission Web stite at the ASI Science Data Center (Italy).
GLAST: Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope
NASA home page of the GLAST experiment, scheduled to be launched in 2007.
GLAST: Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope
NASA project under development. Areas of study include active galactic nuclei, gamma ray background radiation, cosmic rays, as well as bursts
GRACE
"The Gamma-Ray burst Afterglow Collaboration at Eso (GRACE) is a collaboration of gamma-ray burst (GRB) follow-up groups which work together to study GRB afterglows and their host-galaxies." Site contains a list of publications and some external links.
The Gamma-Ray Astronomy Team Home Page
Research group responsible for several space missions that to study gamma ray bursts, including The Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) and The GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM).
HETE-2: High Energy Transient Explorer
"The High Energy Transient Explorer is a small scientific satellite designed to detect and localize gamma-ray bursts."
The HETE-2 Satellite
NASA site for the HETE-2 mission.
The GRB Coordinates Network
NASA site supporting the network that facilitates study of burst events by many observatories. Contains external links and general information.
BeppoSAX Mission Home Page
BeppoSAX is an X-ray astronomy satellite developed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It has made some important observations related to gamma ray bursts. The mission ended in 2002.
BATSE: Burst And Transient Source Experiment
BATSE was a gamma ray experiment on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory designjed to study gamma ray bursts. The mission ended in 2000.
Cosmic Gamma Ray Bursts
Original home page of the BATSE project.


Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Gamma ray burster
Article from Wikipedia.
Gamma-ray Burst FAQ
Good single-page set of frequently asked questions about gamma-ray bursts, with information as of July 2001, by Edo Berger.
Gamma-Ray Bursts
Good single-page overview from the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission site.
Gamma Ray Bursts
A lecture by James Schombert.
GRBs: A Collapse and then a Spectacular Explosion
A fairly recent description of the "collapsar" model of GRBs. See also the related information about Why a "Hypernova"?.
Ask a High-Energy Astronomer: Gamma-ray Bursts
Common questions, with answers, provided by NASA's Ask a High-Energy Astronomer service.
Gamma-ray Bursts
Tutorial information from NASA's Imagine the Universe site. There's also a more advanced level page on the topic. See the cover page for complete list of topics.
Gamma Ray Bursts
Part of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center site. Provides general information on gamma ray bursts.
Cosmic Cannon: How an Exploding Star Could Fry Earth
June 2001 article form Space.com. Discusses possible gamma ray burst mechanism.
Gamma Ray Bursts and Supernovae
October 1999 article from Space.com. Discusses the theory that gamma ray bursts are associated with supernovae.
Gamma Ray Bursts: Solving a Cosmic Riddle
October 1999 article from Space.com. Compares the neutron star and collapsar theories.
GLAST goes for blast-off
May 2008 article from Physics World, by Julie McEnery, Steve Ritz and Neil Gehrels. "Due to be launched by NASA this month, the GLAST satellite will study the gamma-ray sky in unprecedented detail and shed light on some of the most extreme astrophysical processes in nature."
Closing in on the gamma-ray sky
Summary of March 2007 article from Physics World, by Werner Hoffman and Jim Hinton. The authors "discuss how HESS's [High Energy Stereoscopic System telescope] gamma-ray data have provided insights into various aspects of high-energy physics since the it became operational in 2004."
Hunting cosmic explosions
October 2004 article from Physics World, by Jens Hjroth, Chryssa Kouveliotou, and Stan Woosley. "Gamma-ray bursts are the most violent and energetic explosions in the universe, each emitting as much energy as 100 million billion Suns. Astronomers now think that these awesome explosions occur when stars die."
Gamma-ray bursts
April 1998 article from Physics World, by Ralph Wijers: "The discovery of visible light from gamma-ray bursts has revealed that these puzzling objects lie among the most distant quasars and galaxies in the universe, while radio observations have highlighted their ultrarelativistic nature."
Gamma-Ray Bursts May Be Born in Stellar Nurseries
April 2001 Scientific American news article about research that supports the theory that some gamma-ray bursts are associated with very energetic supernovae.
Gamma-Ray Bursts Come Home
February 2000 Scientific American Amateur Scientist article about participation by amateur astronomers in gamma-ray burst research.
Mega Burst
1999 article from Scientific American on the burst known as GRB 990123, first sighted January 23, 1999. Contains links and supplementary information.
Bright Lights, Big Mystery
August 1998 news story from Scientific American, about observations of 3 bursts within the past year.
Gamma Ray Bursts: An Overview
Good article with literature references, by Gerald Fishman.
Gamma-Ray Burst Physics
Article with literature references by Peter Mészáros.
Gamma-ray after-glow reveals new secrets
March 21, 2003 news article from PhysicsWeb on the best observations yet of a gamma ray burst, GRB 021004.
Supernova link to gamma-ray bursts
November 3, 2000 news article from PhysicsWeb on possible connections between supernovae and gamma ray bursts.
Closing in on gamma-ray bursts
June 29, 2000 news article from PhysicsWeb on detailed images of a galaxy in which a gamma ray burst has occurred.
Scientists illuminate Gamma-Ray Burst
March 26, 1999 news article from PhysicsWeb on observations of GRB-990123.
Gamma-ray bursts spring more surprises
October 16, 1998 PhysicsWeb news article.
The biggest bang since the big bang
May 8, 1998 PhysicsWeb news article.
Rare Flare
May 2005 Scientific American In Focus article, entitled "Odd magnetar burst partly solves gamma-ray riddle."


Press releases, news stories

Star dies in giant gamma ray burst
March 20, 2003 CNN news article on the optical observation of GRB 021004.
Race To Gamma-Ray Burst Reveals Gigantic Exposion, Death & Birth
March 19, 2003 NASA press release on optical imaging of a gamma ray burst.
Autopsy of an Explosion
March 26, 1999 NASA article containing much information on GRB 990123.
Astronomers Astounded by Enormous Explosion in Deep Space
CNN, 5/6/98
Brightest Burst in the Universe
ABC News, 5/6/98
Satellite Finds Imprint of Universe on Gamma-ray Explosions
1994 press release regarding new evidence that gamma ray bursts are very distant phenomena.
NASA Satellite Data Shake Theories on Gamma-ray Bursts
1993 press release regarding satellite data indicating extra-galactic origin of gamma ray bursts.


Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Gammas from Heaven
Ron Cowen
Science News, November 3, 2007
Physicists and astronomers join forces to study the high-energy universe.
Window on the Extreme Universe
William B. Atwood, Peter F. Michelson; Steven Ritz
Scientific American, November 2007
Stalking Cosmic Explosions
Govert Schilling
Astronomy, February 2003, pp. 48-52
In 1997 it was possible for the first time to associate gamma ray bursts with events observable at x-ray, visible light, and radio wavelengths. Among other things, this proved conclusively that such bursts are events in very distant galaxies.
The Brightest Explosions in the Universe
Neil Gehrels; Luigi Piro; Peter J. T. Leonard
Scientific American, December 2002, pp.
There She Blows
Robert Zimmerman
The Sciences, January-February 2000, pp. 25-29
The main mystery of gamma ray bursts is the extreme amount of energy which must have been released in their production. Although observations in various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum have made it certain that the events are extra-galactic, adequate theoretical models are still unavailable.
Gamma-Ray Bursts
Gerald J. Fishman, Dieter H. Hartmann
Scientific American, July 1997, pp. 46-51
New telescopes and satellite-based instruments have made it possible to identify the visible-light sources of gamma-ray bursts and help explain their origin.
When Neutron Stars Collide
Robert Zimmerman
Astronomy, April 1997, pp. 52-55
It is fairly certain that gamma ray bursts are caused by the collision of neutron stars. A considerable amount of energy is released in such collisions - as much as the normal output of a billion galaxies the size of the Milky Way, which would be enough energy to be almost visible to the naked eye at a distance of 10 billion light-years. Such an event within 3000 light-years of Earth would be sufficient to extinguish all life here.


Recommended references: Books

Jonathan I. Katz -- The Biggest Bangs: The Mystery of Gamma-Ray Bursts, the Most Violent Explosions in the Universe
Oxford University Press, 2002
It's a real pleasure to find a competent book for a general audience that is tightly focused on an important research area. This is such a book. Without duplicating general material on astrophysics which can be found in many other books, it tells you what is known about gamma-ray bursts, how they have been studied, and considers possible explanations for the phenomenon.

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Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved