TESS telescope detects gamma flash 16 times brighter than usual

Gamma-ray bursts are the brightest explosions in the universe, usually associated with the collapse of a massive star and

the birth of a black hole. They can produce as much radioactive energy as the Sun could have released in 10 billion years of its existence.

“Our results prove that this telescopeTESS is useful not only for the search for new planets, but also for high energy astrophysics. Such studies shed light on the behavior of matter in the deeply curved spacetime around black holes and on the processes by which black holes emit powerful jets into their parent galaxies.

Christa Lynn Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Southern Methodist University

The peak value of GRB 191016A is 15.1, which ismeans that this burst was 10,000 times fainter than the faintest stars we see with the naked eye. It seems like something special about this flash, but the brightness has to do with how far away the explosion took place. It is estimated that light from the galaxy GRB 191016A traveled 11.7 billion years before becoming visible with the TESS telescope.

Most GRBs are 160,000 times fainterfainter than the faintest stars. The flash peaked in brightness somewhere between 1,000 and 2,600 seconds, then faded away until it dropped below TESS's ability to detect it approximately 7,000 seconds after it was first detected.

In fact, this gamma-ray burst was the first timediscovered by NASA's Swift-BAT satellite, which is built specifically to detect these bursts. But Swift-BAT was unable to provide the necessary follow-up. In doing so, NASA's TESS observed the same part of the sky.

While exoplanet researchers at a ground-basedTESS could immediately tell that a gamma-ray burst had occurred, but it was not until many months later that data from the TESS satellite was received. But since their attention was focused on exoplanets, no attention was paid to the data on the flare at all.

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