Gamma Ray Bursters
Gamma-ray bursters, or GRBs, are, quite simply, the most energetic events in the universe. The amounts of energy involved in these cosmic explosions are, even by cosmological standards, simply staggering. This whole book is about unbelievably high-energy events occurring in our galaxy and in distant and superdistant galaxies. But even the cosmologically remote quasars do not emit brief bursts of energy that stand in comparison with the most dramatic GRBs. The GRB from a nearby supernova explosion has been suggested as the cause of the Ordovician extinction, 450 million years ago, which resulted in the death of nearly 60 percent of the oceanic life on this planet.
The first question a newcomer to GRBs will undoubtedly ask is: “How can an amateur detect gamma rays?” Fortunately, they do not have to, as GRBs often produce an optical counterpart, too, and it is detecting and monitoring the fade of the optical counterpart that is the vital amateur contribution.
GRBs were first detected by...