Friday, October 07, 2005

The Solution To An Astronomical Mystery

From Solomon's House comes this very interesting bit of information:

From today's New York Times, Ancient Interstellar Collision Helps Explain Source of Radiation:
With a screech of high-energy radiation brighter than a million billion suns, a pair of stars in a faraway galaxy collided two billion years ago and disappeared into a black hole.

That cataclysm, recorded by a battery of telescopes and NASA satellites on July 9, has provided scientists with the answer to the last remaining piece of 35-year-old astronomical mystery: the origin of explosions that sporadically shower outer space with gamma rays, the most energetic and deadly form of electromagnetic radiation.

Exactly what happened 35 years ago to merit this investigation isn't mentioned by the New York Times. These bursts were originally discovered by the United States Air Force's constellation of Vela satellites, spacecraft designed to detect nuclear explosions.

So, the military's attempt to detect nuclear explosions on earth resulted in a generation of funding for astrophysical investigation of a completely different phenomenon; and an explosion of human knowledge about our universe. Imagine that! But the solution to one mystery created another....

Solomon has some ideas about why the military aspect is never mentioned. Check it out.

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