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Hubble sees the brightest kilonova yet

17 Nov 2020, 11:58 UTC
Hubble sees the brightest kilonova yet
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Artist’s concept of short gamma-ray burst 200522A, the result of what scientists have confirmed to be the brightest kilonova ever recorded, at 10 times brighter than the next closest observed event. Image via Center for Astrophysics/ NASA/ ESA/ D. Player (STScI).
A team of scientists said earlier this month (November 12, 2020) that they’ve observed the most luminous kilonova candidate yet discovered. Kilo means a thousand, and a kilonova bears its name for its dramatic peak brightness, which might be 1,000 times greater than an ordinary classical nova (but only a fraction as bright as a supernova). This one was associated with a short gamma ray burst – labeled GRB 200522A – seen on May 22, 2020. Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope, made in the days after the discovery, showed that the radiation from this distant cosmological event didn’t fit the profile scientists had come to expect from typical kilonovae. It shone as much as 10 times brighter most kilonovae in the near-infrared, as viewed from Hubble three days after the first observations.
Gamma rays bursts are believed to be caused when two neutron stars merge in a violent explosion, and the radiation from hot elements created in the ...

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