ESA has detected an unprecedented gamma-ray burst from a faraway exploding star, leading to significant disturbances in the Earth’s ionosphere. This burst, the brightest and strongest ever recorded, is being researched for its potential link to historical mass extinctions on Earth.
The Integral space telescope operated by ESA detected a massive burst of gamma rays hitting Earth and causing a significant disturbance in the ionosphere. These disturbances usually originate from energetic particle events on the Sun, but in this case, the burst was from an exploding star located almost two billion light-years away. The potential link between the burst and historical mass extinctions on Earth is of interest to researchers.
According to the European Space Agency, the event took place on October 9, 2022, and marked the detection of an unusually bright and long-lasting gamma-ray burst. The burst was named GRB 221009A.
This observation is considered extraordinary as it is probably the brightest gamma-ray burst ever detected. Researchers from the University of L’Aquila in Italy and the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome are working to better understand the impact of the burst on Earth.
The impacts of the gamma-ray burst were far-reaching, with the blast delivering enough energy to activate lightning detectors in India and causing disturbances in Earth’s ionosphere that were detected in Germany.
During the 800 seconds that the gamma rays were impacting, the burst had enough energy to affect Earth, even though it originated in a galaxy almost 2 billion light-years away. This impact reflects the potential severity of the consequences related to a supernova in our own galaxy.
This observation reveals a new understanding of the way Earth interacts with distant events in the Universe, opening a new window into the study of mass extinctions and natural catastrophes on Earth. The team of researchers is continuing their study of the data collected and are looking forward to future missions that will help further investigate this fascinating phenomenon.