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Astronomers Excited About “Monster” Cosmic Blast

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Astronomers say the brightest gamma ray burst ever recorded is changing many theories about how black holes are formed.

The blast of light, designated GRB 130427A, was seen on April 27th by observers around the world, says NASA.

Scientists say it came from a dying star in a galaxy so far away that the light took 3.8 billion years to reach Earth.

Gamma ray bursts are the brightest objects in the universe, thought to occur when a massive star collapses into a black hole and blasts particle jets outward at nearly the speed of light.

“We expect to see an event like this only once or twice a century, so we’re fortunate it happened when we had the appropriate collection of sensitive space telescopes with complementary capabilities available to see it,” said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division in Washington.

Researchers say the spectacular results show that accepted theories about how gamma ray bursts form are outdated.

“We thought the visible light for these flashes came from internal shocks, but this burst shows that it must come from the external shock, which produces the most energetic gamma-rays,” said Sylvia Zhu, a Fermi team member at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Information from this “monster” explosion could lead to a deeper understanding of the universe.

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