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World's First Movie Of Black Hole Birth

Date:
March 27, 2008
Source:
Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies
Summary:
The date March 19, 2008 marked the brightest ever cosmic explosion observed from the Earth. The outburst known as GRB 080319B was probably the death of a massive star leading to the creation of a black hole. For the first time the birth of a black hole has been filmed. Cameras of the "Pi of the Sky" project recorded this remarkable event. In almost 20 seconds the object became so bright that it could be visible with the naked eye. Then it began fading, and in 4 minutes it became 100 times fainter.

2008.03.19 "Pi of the Sky" telescope detected the brightest ever optical outburst from a distant galaxy. The explosion happened 7.5 billion light years from the Earth, halfway across the visible Universe. The telescope is only 71 mm in diameter.
Credit: Image courtesy of Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies

The date of March 19, 2008 marked the brightest ever cosmic explosion observed from the Earth. The outburst known as GRB 080319B was probably the death of a massive star leading to the creation of a black hole. For the first time the birth of a black hole has been filmed. Cameras of the "Pi of the Sky" project recorded this remarkable event with a 4-minute sequence of 10-second-long images. In almost 20 seconds the object became so bright that it could be visible with the naked eye. Then it began fading and in 4 minutes it became 100 times fainter. At that time the observation was taken over by larger telescopes.

The "Pi of the Sky" observation combined with the Swift satellite gamma-ray data for the first time confirmed with 10s precision that optical emission starts simultaneously with the gamma-ray burst. Optical observations during the first seconds of the burst are crucial to understand the mechanism of releasing such huge energy.

This observation was the proof of the novel concept of the "Pi of the Sky" project. Usually, optical emission from GRB is observed by telescopes listening to alerts from satellite gamma ray detectors. Signal distribution and turning the telescope take some time and the very first minute of the outburst cannot be observed. The principle of the "Pi of the Sky" project is different. The apparatus monitors a continuously large fraction of the sky taking 10s exposures and detects optical flashes independently, while the satellite information confirms the origin of the flash. Currently "Pi of the Sky" apparatus consists of two cameras installed in Las Campanas Observatory.

They cover 20x20 degree of the sky. To increase the chance of observing a GRB, 32 new cameras are under construction. They will cover 1/3 of the visible sky continuously. The original plan was to cover pi (~3.14) steradians of the sky, giving the name for the project. The name recalls also the title of the John Barrow book "Pi in the sky" arguing that the phenomena we observe are governed by physical laws expressed in mathematical language.

The “Pi of the Sky” project was inspired by Bohdan Paczynski, the great astrophysicist who past away last year. He contributed a lot to the understanding of GRBs and he always claimed that small telescopes have great potential for sky surveys.

The project is conducted by collaboration of Polish research institutes: Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies (Warsaw), Center for Theoretical Physics PAS (Warsaw), Warsaw University, Warsaw University of Technology, Space Research Center PAS (Warsaw), University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (Warsaw), Pedagogical University of Cracow.

Raw video and graphs at: http://grb.fuw.edu.pl/pi/ot/grb080319b/news.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies. "World's First Movie Of Black Hole Birth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080326223837.htm>.
Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies. (2008, March 27). World's First Movie Of Black Hole Birth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080326223837.htm
Soltan Institute for Nuclear Studies. "World's First Movie Of Black Hole Birth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080326223837.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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