CfA Colloquium Schedule Spring 2005
 12 May 2005

12 May 2005

Speaker: Neil Gehrels (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Title: Gamma Ray Burst Discoveries by the Swift Mission

Abstract: Gamma-ray bursts are among the most fascinating occurrences in the cosmos. They are thought to be the birth cries of black holes throughout the universe. The NASA Swift mission is an innovative new multiwavelength observatory designed to determine the origin of bursts and use them to probe the early Universe. Swift is now in orbit after a beautiful launch on November 20, 2004. A new-technology wide-field gamma-ray camera detects more than a hundred bursts per year. Sensitive narrow-field X-ray and UV/optical telescopes are pointed at the burst location in 20 to 70 sec by an autonomously controlled "swift" spacecraft. For each burst, arcsec positions are determined and optical/UV/X-ray/gamma-ray spectrophotometry performed. Information is also rapidly sent to the ground to a team of more than 50 observers at telescopes around the world. First results from the mission will be presented, including observations of bright GRBs, faint GRBs, short GRBs and a super-giant flare from the soft gamma repeater SGR1806-20.

Video of the Presentation (Talks can be viewed with RealPlayer. Free download is available from )

References for students:

  1. "Gamma-Ray Bursts: 30 Years of Discovery", AIP Conference Proceedings #727
  2. "The Brightest Explosions in the Universe", Scientific American, 287, No. 6, (Dec. 2002), 84


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