Detected Gamma-Ray Burst Might Be Linked To Gravitational Wave

By Victor Thomson , Apr 22, 2016 04:09 PM EDT

Earlier this year, scientists announced that the first gravitational waves could be detected, probably coming from the two black holes merger. Now, using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope another team of scientists announced they were able to detect a brief flash of gamma rays occurring less than half a second after the gravitational wave signal.

According to Sci-Tech Today, the gamma-ray outburst has not been definitively linked to that first gravitational wave signal but just came from the same general area. The findings were announced in Salt Lake City, at the American Physical Society's meeting.

The website reported that study lead author Valerie Connaughton, of the National Space, Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama, declared in a statement that there is a low chance this discovery is just a false alarm. However, more observations of gamma rays bursts need to be associated with gravitational waves from black hole mergers before the scientific community can start rewriting the textbooks.

The first gravitational wave signal has been detected on Sept. 14, 2015, by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). At the same time, the Fermi space telescope also detected a signal coming from the same direction.

Adam Goldstein of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama declared at a briefing that the scientific community is questioning now the possibility that LIGO's observations and NASA's observation are coming from the same object. The answer cannot be given at the moment, but it is expected that this will be likely "answered in the next couple of years."

Gamma rays are thought to be produced by supernovas and pulsars and they are higher in energy than even X-rays. Previously, binary black hole mergers were not considered a trigger for gamma rays.

After the two space events were detected, now the scientists believe that there's less than a 0.2 percent chance they are merely coincidental. However, there are still some researchers who don't think the events are related. According to them, the gamma ray could come from a neutron star merger instead.

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