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05-Oct-05 | Swift

NASA has announced a major breakthrough in gamma ray astronomy, thanks in part to observations made by the Swift satellite (Delta 309). While long gamma-ray bursts (lasting 2 seconds or longer) are known to be caused by massive star explosions, the origin of short gamma-ray bursts remained a mystery — until now. These bursts are now believed to be caused by the collision of a neutron star with either another neutron star or a black hole. By quickly spotting a short burst on 09 May and autonomously relaying its coordinates to scientists around the world, a whole host of observatories — including Hubble, Chandra, and several ground-based telescopes — were able to study its afterglow in a wide range of spectra. (05-Oct-05 NASA Press Release)

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