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The collapse of a distant star lit up space with an explosion that lasted less than one minute.
Things got a little brighter in our near cosmos recently. The collapse of a distant star, called a gamma-ray burst, lit up space with an explosion that lasted less than one glorious minute.
The cosmic blast was captured earlier this year by space-based telescopes, according to the BBC. It was recently confirmed as the brightest gamma-ray burst ever witnessed.
The exploding star was enormous. Researchers believe that it was about 20 to 30 times the mass of the sun. It was also far away. So far that it the light from the burst took 4 billion years to reach our eyes.
"This burst was a once-in-a-century cosmic event," scientists studying the event told reporters on Thursday.
"It's much more than the energy that the sun has emitted in its whole life," said Stanford University astrophysicist Nicola Omodei.
The April 27 event was captured by NASA's Swift and Fermi space-based telescopes.
Scientists believe that gamma-ray bursts occur when the core of a star runs out of fuel and collapses onto its core. The collapse creates a black hole that pulls in the rest of the star's matter, some of which is focused into powerful jets of energy that fire out into the cosmos.
The once-in-a-lifetime event offered researchers an unprecedented opportunity to collect data the phenomenon, which according to Standford University "could lead to a rewrite of standard theories of how gamma-ray bursts work."
The findings were published in the journal Science.