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NASA's Swift Satellite rocketed into orbit in November 2004 studies gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) -- the biggest and most violent and mysterious explosions in the cosmos. On April 13, the spacecraft's "burst-o-meter" cataloged its 500th GRB, caused when massive stars implode to form black holes releasing a massive spray of deadly energy in the form of electrically charged particles directed along pairs of oppositely oriented narrow beams that in turn generate intense gamma ray radiation that paint the Milky Way in arcs, like a cosmic death beam as the black hole rotates.
In its first five years in orbit, NASA's Swift satellite has given astronomers more than they could have hoped for. Its discoveries range from a nearby nascent supernova to a blast so far away that it happened when our universe was only 5 percent of its present age.
If a gamma ray sweeps over a planet, all complex life could be annihilated. Gamma ray bursts where more common in the past, and could have prevented intelligent life from evolving in the Milky Way (and other galaxies) for billions of years. But there are still occurring, and still a potential life-destroying threat. Here's a fascinating inventory of major gamma ray bursts, NASA has observed since the SWIFT Satellite was launched in 2004.
Originally posted by Crossfate
I'm just hoping we don't get annihilated by some massive gamma ray burst in 2012 when we move to the center of the milky way.
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Simple amazing. Makes you realize how we tiny we humans are in this universe but how lucky we are to have the brains and ability to watch and learn from the univers