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Fast radio bursts born in cosmic cataclysms

15 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) were first discovered in 2007, and in the years since radio astronomers have detected a few dozen of these events. Researchers have found that these mysterious “cosmic whistles” can release a billion times more energy in gamma-rays than they do in radio waves, rivalling supernovae in their explosive power.

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UPDATED: Are comet fragments best explanation for mysterious dimming star?

25 November 2015 Keith Cooper

A star called KIC 8462852 has been in the news recently for unexplained and bizarre behaviour. NASA’s Kepler mission had monitored the star for four years, observing two unusual incidents, in 2011 and 2013, when the star’s light dimmed in dramatic, never-before-seen ways. Something had passed in front of the star and blocked its light, but what?

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NASA’s Swift spots its thousandth gamma-ray burst

8 November 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Swift spacecraft has detected its 1,000th gamma-ray burst (GRB). A GRB is a fleeting blast of high-energy light, often lasting a minute or less, occurring somewhere in the sky every couple of days. GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe, typically associated with the collapse of a massive star and the birth of a black hole.

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Pulsar punches hole in stellar disc

23 July 2015 Astronomy Now

A fast-moving pulsar appears to have punched a hole in a disc of gas around its companion star and launched a fragment of the disc outward at a speed of about 4 million miles per hour. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is tracking this cosmic clump, which appears to be picking up speed as it moves out.