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. Neil Gehrels (NASA-GSFC).
All Swift systems are operating normally.
Some 290 million years ago, a star much like the sun wandered too close to the central black hole of its galaxy. Intense tides tore the star apart, which produced an eruption of optical, ultraviolet and X-ray light that first reached Earth in 2014. Now, a team of scientists using observations from NASA's Swift satellite have mapped out how and where these different wavelengths were produced in the event, named ASASSN-14li, as the shattered star's debris circled the black hole.
+ Read More
Dr. Neil Gehrels, Principal Investigator of the Swift Mission, passed away this morning surrounded by his family. Neil had been battling pancreatic cancer and his health declined rapidly over the past several weeks. Neil was the Chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a honorary fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Neil's work primarily focused on time domain astronomy, including gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, tidal disruption events and gravitational waves.
+ Read More
Swift Cycle 13 Recommended Targets and Proposals have been posted.
If you're a Swift Team member looking for the Team site, try: