Beautiful and Bright Explosion In the Sky

NASA Telescopes Join Forces to Observe Unprecedented Explosion.

NASA’s Swift, Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have teamed up to study one of the most puzzling cosmic blasts yet observed. More than a week later, high-energy radiation continues to brighten and fade from its location.  Astronomers say they have never seen anything this bright, long-lasting and variable before.


Images from Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical (white, purple) and X-ray telescopes (yellow and red) were combined in this view of GRB 110328A.


Currently, astronomers believe a star wandered too close to its own galaxies central black hole which created the unusual blast.  Gas is continuing to stream toward the hole.  The black hole might have formed an outflowing jet along its rotational axis.  When the jet is pointed towards us you can see the X-rays and gamma rays.  Research is still ongoing.

Swift’s Burst Alert Telescope discovered the source coming from Draco when it erupted on March 28th.  Astronomers were informed worldwide.

An image taken by Hubble on April 4th finds the source of the explosion in the center of a galaxy that is 3.8 billion light years away.


April 4 by the Hubble Space Telescope

That same day, astronomers used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to make a four-hour-long exposure of the puzzling source.


Chandra X-ray Observatory April 4

Most galaxies, including our own, contain central black holes with millions of times the sun’s mass; those in the largest galaxies can be a thousand times larger. The disrupted star probably succumbed to a black hole less massive than the Milky Way‘s, which has a mass four million times that of our sun.

Astronomers plan additional Hubble observations to see if the galaxy’s core changes brightness.