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Gamma-Ray Burst
April 28, 2009 5:40 PM   Subscribe

New burst vaporizes cosmic distance record. "NASA's Swift satellite and an international team of astronomers have found a gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old, or less than five percent of its present age. The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen."
posted by homunculus (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I call it "grubby" for short.
posted by malaprohibita at 5:43 PM on April 28, 2009

*squeezes chubby cheeks of young universe*
posted by DU at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

How did a star manage to be born, burn out & die all in 630 million years of the birth of the universe? It seems to me, and what do I know about stellar life-spans -- not much -- that's why I'm asking, that this would push back the origin date of the universe? Please hope me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2009

How did a star manage to be born, burn out & die all in 630 million years of the birth of the universe?

From the first link:

The star that exploded to form this GRB was probably not among the very first in the Universe to be born; even 230 million years is a long time compared to the lifetime of those extremely massive stars, which may have exploded after living only a million years or so. But it may have been born in the second generation, stars that formed from gas blown out by the explosions of those first stars.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 6:17 PM on April 28, 2009

Are we sure this isn't more false evidence planted by Satan to make creationism look bad?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:24 PM on April 28, 2009

Not to be, like, the only jerk, but what's the big deal? I don't know if we're looking at the same image -- maybe, I don't know, my browser's on the fritz -- but that thing looks tii-ny. I've seen spectral orbs floating in Victorian hallways bigger than this thing, and the Federal government certainly isn't paying for the study of those. (Though they most certainly should.)

Feh. "Swift" Satellite? More like Dullard's Spacejunk. Totally disappointing.
posted by ford and the prefects at 6:24 PM on April 28, 2009

Thanks, Doofus -- I'm totally illiterate, sometimes. This is fascinating stuff, of course. It tends to overwhelm my puny brain stem pretty quickly.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:28 PM on April 28, 2009

but that thing looks tii-ny.

you'd look tiny too if you were 13 billion light years away. (1 light year= ~6 trillion miles)

also...(much geekery ahead)...the swift song.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:32 PM on April 28, 2009

It would be more impressive if they found a message from other space faring species already. They've been looking for years. Grrr.
posted by rainy at 11:09 PM on April 28, 2009

I hope we figure the universe out before I die, or at least figure out how to prolong human life to arbitrary length so I can stay alive until we do.

I want to slip into a stasis field at the age of 750 or so for a 0.95c 20,000-year subjective trip halfway across the galaxy to a colony planet where I can start up a new Metafilter franchise.

Then at the age of 2 or 3000 lived years, after I get tired of meat, transfer my consciousness into a self-sufficient self-repairing robotic probe, mock-synaptic activity time-shifted down a few orders of magnitude when necessary so interstellar wandering doesn't get boring (or a few thousand orders of magnitude for the intergalactic runs), and just head out there subluminal and look for cool shit (and other soulbucket robot probes to mate with).

There's just too much cool out there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:44 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

I simply refuse to accept the idea that I can't go anywhere I can see. Even 13 billion light years away. It's just a thing of mine, irrational though it may be. There must be a short cut, or something.

And then I look at something like the Hubble Deep Field photo, and get a little scared, imagining how totally easy it would be to get lost out there.
posted by Goofyy at 3:07 AM on April 29, 2009

you'd look tiny too if you were 13 billion light years away

Actually, angular diameter distances aren't monotonic - they change above a redshift of 1.5, so more distant objects look bigger as they get further away. The easiest way to think about this is that further away, the universe is younger and therefore smaller, and so an object of a given size needs to take up more of the sky you see.

Admittedly though, he would still look tiny.
posted by edd at 9:26 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Waves of star birth sweep through tiny galaxies
posted by homunculus at 11:25 AM on May 1, 2009

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