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Glossary term: gamma ray burst

Description: Gamma ray bursts are short bursts of gamma rays. These were first detected by satellites monitoring the Earth for covert nuclear weapons tests. However their origin was found to lie in outer space, indeed beyond our Galaxy. Most gamma ray bursts are thought to result from supernova explosions with others possibly resulting from two neutron stars in a binary system coalescing together. These huge explosions produce two focussed jets of material. Highly energetic gamma rays are also focussed along these jets. We only see a gamma ray burst if, by chance, the line of one of the jets coincides with the angle we on Earth view the stellar explosion from. Observations of optical and X-ray counterparts to gamma ray bursts have shown that these explosions are found in other galaxies, most very distant from the Earth.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition is still awaiting approval

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".