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Home » Neutron star merger confirmed as source of second-brightest gamma-ray burst

Neutron star merger confirmed as source of second-brightest gamma-ray burst

A multinational collaboration of astronomers and astrophysicists recently unveiled groundbreaking evidence surrounding the luminous GRB 230307A, which graced the with its brilliance last year. Contrary to earlier assumptions attributing such bursts to the demise of massive , the team's findings, published in the esteemed journal Nature, indicate that this particular spectacle emanated from the merger of two .

Gamma-ray bursts, recognized as the most dazzling phenomena in the night sky, manifest in two primary categories: those enduring beyond two seconds and briefer counterparts. While the former were conventionally associated with the collapse of massive stars, studies have unveiled that the latter predominantly arise from the fusion of stars.

Neutron stars emerge from the remnants of massive supergiant stars that undergo cataclysmic collapse during a event. Once formed, these neutron stars can traverse the cosmos individually or coalesce into binary systems with fellow neutron stars. As they orbit one another, they emit , detectable from Earth.

With each rotation, the neutron stars draw nearer until gravitational forces compel them into a cataclysmic merger, unleashing a torrent of gamma rays—a spectacle akin to a radiant burst of light, termed a kilonova. In the investigation of GRB 230307A, researchers not only discerned its status as the second most potent gamma-ray burst on record but also identified its origin in a kilonova event, challenging existing paradigms surrounding the genesis of gamma-ray bursts.

The study encompassed a comprehensive analysis of the pre-merger dynamics, the merger event itself, and the resultant aftermath—an unprecedented endeavor in the field. By scrutinizing the residual post-, the research team detected signatures indicative of the of various heavy elements, including precious metals like gold and silver. The elucidation of the mechanisms underlying such elemental formations holds promise for enriching our comprehension of universal genesis.

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