Brightest X-Ray Burst Ever Observed!

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The ISS’s NICER Telescope Observed an X-Ray Burst That Released The Same Amount of Energy in 20 seconds as It Takes The Sun About Ten Days To Release!

The Neuron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope mounted on the ISS detected the largest X-Ray burst on record a couple of months ago. The burst came from a flash on the surface of a pulsar’s remains.

According to a statement from NASA, NICER observed a huge surge of X-Rays on August 20th around 10 pm EDT. The burst jettisoned the same amount of energy as our sun does in 10 days. That doesn’t sound like much until you realize that the X-Ray burst only lasted about twenty seconds.  

The pulsar in question is called SAX J1808.4-356, or, ya know, just J1808 for short. NASA believes a huge thermonuclear blast on the surface of the pulsar is the culprit behind the X-Ray burst.

Here’s More about the X-Ray Burst:

Peter Bult from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said, “This burst was outstanding.” The lead researcher continued, “We see a two-step change in brightness, which we think is caused by the ejection of separate layers from the pulsar surface, and other features that will help us decode the physics of these powerful events.”

Bursts of radiation happen with pulsars with relative regularity across the cosmos. And this particular type, classified as a Type I X-Ray Burst happens most frequently. A rapidly rising brightness followed by a slow decline distinguishes it from other radioactive bursts, such as Gamma-Ray Bursts and others. 

This particular observation from NICER will allow astrophysicists to better understand such events. Which may also help to predict them in the future. This is important because radioactive bursts like these can be planet-killers. Especially Gamma-Ray Bursts.

Don’t Believe Me? Check Out This Video:

Strangely Calming

I know. I know. It’s a bit morbid to think that at any moment the entire Earth could be incinerated and we’d have no idea until we were on fire. On the other hand, whenever I get to thinking about all of the little squabbles that go on from day to day, I like to remind myself about Gamma-Ray Bursts. Because when I think about that intense heat and radiation traveling a billion light-years from the pulsar that created it, it fills me with awe and reminds me how small we all are in the great cosmos.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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