Gamma-ray burst

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Overview:

A big star met its demise in a massive explosion called a supernova that unleashed a huge burst of gamma rays that traversed the cosmos which reached Earth last year, causing a significant disturbance in Earth's ionosphere.

About Gamma-ray burst

  • It is a powerful astronomical cosmic burst of high-energy gamma-ray.
  • It emits more energy in a few seconds than our Sun will emit in its lifetime.
  • It has two distinct emission phases: the short-lived prompt emission (the initial burst phase that emits gamma-rays), followed by a long-lived multi-wavelength afterglow phase. 
  • The shortest GRBs likely mark the collision of two compact stellar remnants called neutron stars, and the longest bursts are thought to arise when a massive, rapidly spinning star collapses to form a black hole.
  • Sources of Gamma Ray
    • They are produced by the hottest and most energetic objects in the universe, such as neutron stars and pulsars, supernova explosions, and regions around black holes.
    • On Earth, gamma waves are generated by nuclear explosions, lightning, and the less dramatic activity of radioactive decay.

What is the Ionosphere?

  • It is a layer of the planet's upper atmosphere that contains electrically charged gases called plasma.
  • It is situated about 30-600 miles (50-950 km) above Earth's surface.
  • It helps form the boundary between the vacuum of space and the lower atmosphere.
  • It helps protect life on Earth by absorbing harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  • It is highly sensitive to changing magnetic and electrical conditions in space, usually connected to solar activity.
  • It also expands and contracts in response to solar radiation.

Q1) What is Solar radiation?

It refers to the energy emitted by the Sun in the form of electromagnetic waves. It's the primary source of energy for Earth and plays a crucial role in sustaining life and driving various natural processes. This radiation encompasses a spectrum of wavelengths, including visible light, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and infrared radiation.

Source: Gamma-ray burst in faraway galaxy disturbed Earth's upper atmosphere