The image shows a Gamma-Ray Burst

What Are Gamma-Ray Bursts?

From natural disasters like volcanic eruptions to war weapons like the atomic bomb, human beings are always in trouble, but what if I told you that that’s not it. To add to the existing chaos, let me introduce you to one of the most incredible and the most powerful explosions in the entire universe, the Gamma-Ray Bursts.

Firstly Gamma photons are the highest energy photons. Secondly, photons are the fastest traveling particles in the universe, so yes, this is a huge deal. Gamma-Ray Bursts are intense explosions of Gamma photons released in durations of a few seconds to minutes. They outshine the entire visible universe making the explosion a magnificent site to watch.

Energies of Gamma-Ray Bursts

The energy is exceptionally high reaching, up to Giga-electron Volts and even Tera-electron Volts in case of the most energetic GRBs. To give you an idea, let’s consider the fact that visible photons have energy in the range of a few electron-volts. That makes GRB emissions billion or even a trillion times more energetic. The less violent part of the emission is the release of X-Rays, Radio waves, and visible light. The release of different types of EM radiation helps us in uncovering more about these events.

About calling Gamma-Ray Bursts “The Cosmic Snipers,” well, the emission of Gamma photons is through a cone or a narrow beam. It’s like a sniper but just way more deadly. Some Gamma-Ray Bursts release so much energy that even our Sun won’t be able to emit in its entire lifetime. Now, that’s what I call a Cosmic Sniper!

Types of GRBs

Gamma-Ray bursts (GRBs) are believed to have two major types based on their duration. The first one is “Short GRBs” and the 2nd one is “Long GRBs”. It’s very simple to understand these two as short ones are shorter and longer ones have longer durations. Short ones have durations of less than 2 seconds and long ones have a duration equal to or greater than 2 seconds. The thing that probably caught your attention by now must be the duration of the short GRBs being that short! They should actually be called “Blink of an eye GRBs” in my opinion. That would be easier to grasp.

Sources of GRBs

Short GRBs occur during binary mergers and Long GRBs occur during Super-Nova/stellar deaths. The merger can be between two Neutron Stars, a Black-Hole and a Neutron Star, or two Black-Holes. Sounds pretty scary, right! It’s like all the evil has teamed up against the universe, but don’t worry, let me ease you. The good thing about these explosions is that these processes happen far away in distant galaxies. We can safely study them while not getting toasted. The radiation these processes send gets spread out, saving us from a very painful death.

That brings us to the realization that we have just started exploring, and our brains are unable to comprehend the universe. It’s hard even to imagine what else might be out there. In my opinion, let’s not expect anything just yet, as I am sure the universe will always surprise us!