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No direction home?

In "Unique Explosion: Gamma-ray burst leads astronomers to supernova" (SN: 3/4/06, p. 133), the author states that the observed supernova was "one of only a handful ...heralded by a burst of gamma rays." Isn't that because gamma-ray bursts from core-collapse supernovas are directional, along the axis of rotation? Was GRB 060218 "unique" because it produced a burst of gamma rays or because its axis was pointed our way?

PETER WILSON, SIMI VALLEY, CALIF.

Gamma-ray bursts are directional, but less than I percent of supernovas are associated with gamma-ray bursts. Moreover, the supernovas are fainter, and therefore harder to detect, than gamma-ray bursts. That's why only a few of these supernovas have been detected.--R. COWEN
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Wilson, Peter
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:May 13, 2006
Words:117
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