Astronomy Picture of the Day

X-Ray Rings Around a Gamma Ray Burst
Image Credit: NASA Swift Obs.; Data: B. Cenko (NASA’s GSFC), A. Beardmore (U. Leicester) et al.; Processing: J. Miller (U. Michigan)

Explanation: Why would x-ray rings appear around a gamma-ray burst? The surprising answer has little to do with the explosion itself but rather with light reflected off areas of dust-laden gas in our own Milky Way Galaxy. GRB 221009A was a tremendous explosion — a very bright gamma-ray burst (GRB) that occurred far across the universe with radiation just arriving in our Solar System last week. Since GRBs can also emit copious amounts of x-rays, a bright flash of x-rays arrived nearly simultaneously with the gamma-radiation. In this case, the X-rays also bounced off regions high in dust right here in our Milky Way Galaxy, creating the unusual reflections. The greater the angle between reflecting Milky Way dust and the GRB, the greater the radius of the X-ray rings, and, typically, the longer it takes for these light-echoes to arrive.

Tomorrow’s picture: a flowering aurora

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s