“Death Rays of the Cosmos” –Past and Future Extinction by Gamma Ray Burst (WATCH Today’s ‘Galaxy’ Stream)



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 they are still occurring, and still a potential life-destroying threat.

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. Swift was designed to solve the 35-year-old mystery of the origin of GRBs, which scientists think are the birth cries of black holes.



The spacecraft's "burst-o-meter" cataloged GRBs 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.

The Swift satellite's 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.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA Swift https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/main and PBS

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