Bursting Out All Over
The source of high-energy cosmic rays has been a mystery. The SWIFT spacecraft detects Gamma Ray Bursts with a Burst Transient Detector, then quickly focuses more powerful instruments to observe them in detail. GRB060614 shows qualities of both short and long bursts. It is a new class discovered by SWIFT, a hybrid Gamma Ray Burst.
Short Gamma Ray Bursts typically last for milliseconds, and result from the merger of two smaller objects. Long bursts are theorised to result from the core of a star collapsing into a Black Hole. Long bursts last for two seconds or more, and GRB060614 lasted 102 seconds. The light curve resembled a short burst, as if the merger were stretched out in time.
Some astronomers believe that GRB's can be used as standard candles for cosmology. Using Type Ia supernovae led to claims of "dark energy." Before GRB's are used this way, we need to understand their causes much more. Look at the fix supernovae have got us into!