Collapsing star produces one of the most epic cosmic explosions ever seen

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When some stars die, they collapse and go supernova, creating bright flashes of gamma rays and X-rays known as gamma-ray bursts. GRBs are thought to be the biggest explosions in the universe, and now scientists have observed one closer than ever before, leading to a surprise that challenges our understanding of the massive blasts that can also give birth to black holes.

NASA’s Fermi and Swift satellites detected a gamma-ray burst in the direction of the constellation Eridanus on Aug. 29, 2019. It was catalogued as GRB 190829A, and almost immediately observatories around the world automatically shifted to collect more data on the cosmic event.

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It turned out to be about a billion light-years away — a comfortable distance to watch the very violent show, but about 20 times closer to Earth than the typical GRB.

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