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Gamma Ray Bursts

Over the last decade the group’s research has been mainly focussed on the study of cosmic explosions called gamma-ray bursts. 

These short-lived and unpredictable events happen about twice per day in the observable universe. Over several seconds, they produce more energy in gamma-rays than our sun will produce at all wavelengths over its 10 billion year lifetime.

grbTo make progress solving the 50 year old puzzle of gamma-ray bursts required the concerted effort of the world’s most capable space and ground-based observatories. It is now widely believed that most GRBs are the signatures of the collapse of stars that are much more massive than our own sun.

The penetrating power of gamma-rays, combined with the extraordinary luminosity of the bursts, allows them to be used as beacons of star formation (and death) back in time to the very first population of stars that formed. A subset of even shorter bursts is most likely caused by the merger of two neutron stars, or a neutron star with a black hole.