Robert Owen (email@example.com)
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 17:28:11 -0400
Larry Klaes wrote:
> Sep 22 1999 8:01PM
> Mysterious flash in sky has astronomers guessing
> By SETH BORENSTEIN
> WASHINGTON -- Astronomers worldwide are tracking down a
> mysterious and unusual burst of energy that exploded like
> a flashbulb in the sky last week, lingered several hours,
> and disappeared.
> The sudden flash turned a star too dim to see except with a
> good telescope into one almost visible to the naked eye.
> But the outburst really wowed astronomers in invisible
> wavelengths -- X-ray, gamma ray and radio -- where it flashed
> more than 120 times stronger than normal, to become briefly
> the brightest thing in the sky.
> Messages flashed through cyberspace as astronomers buzzed
> about something very peculiar going on. "It's become a kind
> of global detective story," said American University
> astronomer Richard Berendzen.
> On Sept. 15 in Australia, Rod Stubbings, an amateur astronomer,
> snatched a glance at a star in the southern constellation
> "Wow! This is some outburst," Stubbings recalled via e-mail.
> "I closed up the observatory, ran inside and reported the
> Then the worldwide hunt started. Astronomers at the
> Massachusetts Institute of Technology diverted a NASA X-ray
> telescope to take a look.
> "This one came screaming out of nowhere at us," said MIT
> researcher Donald Smith.
> Smith enlisted the help of radio astronomers at observatories
> across the United States.
> "Something really unusual is going on," said astronomer Bob
> Hjellming at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in
> New Mexico.
> The mysterious flash came from somewhere between 1,300 and
> 3,300 light-years away in the Milky Way, Hjellming determined.
> That may sound far away, but in astronomical terms, it's just
> a bit down the street in our own galactic neighborhood.
> Experts' best guess is that a super-compact object, either a
> black hole or neutron star, swallowed much of a neighboring
> star and belched out enormous high-energy jets.
Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA
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