posted on Feb, 18 2005 @ 06:13 AM
Artist's impression of the rotating, highly-magnetised neutron star which is SGR 1806-20, undergoing a 'quake' at its surface, resulting in the
gamma-ray outburst. See more images
"Southampton, UK (SPX) Feb 18, 2005
Scientists have detected a flash of light from across the Galaxy so powerful that it bounced off the Moon and lit up the Earth's upper atmosphere.
This "giant flare" was the brightest explosion ever detected from beyond the Solar System. For over a tenth of a second the remarkable flare was
actually brighter than a full moon.
NASA and European satellites and ground-based telescopes around the world detected the giant flare on 27 December 2004. Scientists from twenty
institutes joined the observations. Two science teams report about this unprecedented event in a forthcoming issue of Nature.
The light detected from the giant flare was far brighter in gamma rays than visible light or X-rays. It was probably created by an unprecedented
eruption on the surface of an exotic neutron star which is classed both as an ultra-magnetic magnetar and as a soft gamma repeater (SGR).
The designation of the neutron star that erupted is SGR 1806-20, about 50,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius.
A number of important questions arise from this discovery:
Are some gamma ray bursts (thought to be very distant black-hole-forming star explosions) actually from neutron star eruptions in nearby galaxies?
What mechanism could unleash so much energy from a magnetar?
Could an even larger influx of gamma rays have caused mass extinction on Earth in the past?"
Interesting date on this "explosion" Dec 27th 2004. Could advance gamma radiation have triggered the great Indo-quake?