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7 City uni stars in research.

A TEAM led by the University of Warwick has pinpointed a new type of exceptionally powerful and longlived cosmic explosion. The work has prompted a theory that the explosions arise in the violent death throes of a supergiant star.

These explosions create powerful blasts of high energy gamma-rays, known as gamma-ray bursts, but while most bursts are over in about a minute, this new type can last for several hours.

The first example was found by astronomers on Christmas Day 2010, but it lacked a measurement of distance and so remained shrouded in mystery with two competing theories put forward for its origin.

The first model suggested it was down to an asteroid, shredded by the gravity of a dense neutron star in our own galaxy, the second that it was a supernova in a galaxy 3.5 billion light years away.

But a new study by a team of scientists led by Dr Andrew Levan at the University of Warwick finds several more examples of these unusual cosmic explosions and shows that the Christmas Day burst took place in a galaxy much further away than the two theories suggested.

The research was presented at the GRB 2013 Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee at the weekend.

It is believed the explosions happened about seven billion light years away, about half-way to the edge of the observable Universe.

Dr Levan said: "It really shows us that the Universe is a much more violent and varied place than we'd imagined."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 22, 2013
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