Scientists using NASA data are studying a newly recognized type of cosmic explosion called a hybrid gamma-ray burst. As with other gamma-ray bursts, this hybrid blast is likely signaling the birth of a new black hole.
It is unclear, however, what kind of object or objects exploded or merged to create the new black hole. The hybrid burst exhibits properties of the two known classes of gamma-ray bursts yet possesses features that remain unexplained.
NASA's Swift first discovered the burst on June 14. Since the Swift finding, more than a dozen telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope and large ground-based observatories, have studied the burst.
"We have lots of data on this event, have dedicated lots of observation time, and we just can't figure out what exploded," said Neil Gehrels of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., lead author on one of four reports appearing in this week's edition of the journal Nature. "All the data seem to point to a new but perhaps not so uncommon kind of cosmic explosion."
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