The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

Swift satellite artists conception Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful explosions the Universe has seen since the Big Bang. They occur approximately once per day and are brief, but intense, flashes of gamma radiation. They come from all different directions of the sky and last from a few milliseconds to a few hundred seconds. So far scientists do not know what causes them. Do they signal the birth of a black hole in a massive stellar explosion? Are they the product of the collision of two neutron stars? Or is it some other exotic phenomenon that causes these bursts?

With Swift, a NASA mission with international participation, scientists have a tool dedicated to answering these questions and solving the gamma-ray burst mystery. Its three instruments give scientists the ability to scrutinize gamma-ray bursts like never before. Within seconds of detecting a burst, Swift relays its location to ground stations, allowing both ground-based and space-based telescopes around the world the opportunity to observe the burst's afterglow. Swift is part of NASA's medium explorer (MIDEX) program and was launched into a low-Earth orbit on a Delta 7320 rocket on November 20, 2004. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Brad Cenko (NASA-GSFC).

NASA's Swift, Fermi Missions Detect Exceptional Cosmic Blast
NASA's Swift, Fermi Missions Detect Exceptional Cosmic Blast
Astronomers around the world are captivated by an unusually bright and long-lasting pulse of high-energy radiation that swept over Earth Sunday, Oct. 9. The emission came from a gamma-ray burst (GRB) - the most powerful class of explosions in the universe - that ranks among the most luminous events known. Credit: NASA/Swift/A. Beardmore (University of Leicester)

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Latest Swift News

Oct 13, 2022

NASA's Swift, Fermi Missions Detect Exceptional Cosmic Blast

Astronomers around the world are captivated by an unusually bright and long-lasting pulse of high-energy radiation that swept over Earth Sunday, Oct. 9. The emission came from a gamma-ray burst (GRB) - the most powerful class of explosions in the universe - that ranks among the most luminous events known.
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May 05, 2022

NASA's Swift Tracks Potential Magnetic Flip of Monster Black Hole

A rare and enigmatic outburst from a galaxy 236 million light-years away may have been sparked by a magnetic reversal, a spontaneous flip of the magnetic field surrounding its central black hole.
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Feb 18, 2022

NASA's Swift Observatory Returns to Science

NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory successfully returned to science operations Thursday, Feb. 17. The spacecraft and its three instruments are healthy and operating as expected.
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