The Swift Search Through Space

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by Clyders1
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The Swift Search Through Space

Gamma Ray Bursts Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB) are mysterious and can happen at any time in space, but scientists have made predictions on how they work; it is assumed that they mark the death of a neutron star (a star involved later in the process of stellar evolutiuon that is very small and dense). The neutron star is consumed internally by a premature black hole. This will then explode into a huge mass of energy, creating an immense black hole. Black holes are the most powerful and destructive things in the universe, and can devastate entire galaxies, hopefully never to include our home, the Milky Way.

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds The large and Small Magellanic clouds are our closest neighbors; in fact, you can see them both by standing in the Southern Hemisphere! That's how they were discovered, by looking into the night sky, people saw star clusters, zoomed in, and found they were actually entire, and undiscovered galaxies! The information Swift has brought back to Earth about these galaxies is amazing, and we have learned a lot about stars and how they are created. It gives us a better idea of understanding our universe. We have learned from Swift that the Large Magellanic Cloud contains an enormous star producer, called the Tarantula Nebula. It is named after its odd spider-like formation in the sky. It produces thousands of stars each year and the Large Magellanic Cloud holds more than 1,000 star clusters alone! The Small Magellanic Cloud is approximately 2/3 the size of the Large Magellanic Cloud, but in turn, holds some of the most luminous stars in the universe. I hope you like what you see, because in 10 billion years the Milky Way will merge with the two Magellanic Clouds. We know all of these things because of the Swift Satellite!

How Swift Works Swift has three telescopes to help it capture Gamma Ray Bursts. It's Burst Alert Telescope or BAT detects the Gamma Rays headed swifts way and snapshots them while the other telescopes, the X-Ray Telescope (XRT) and Ultra Violet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) help scrutinize the afterglow of the intense explosion. Afterwards a series of images are transmitted back to earth for your viewing pleasure.

NASA's Swift Satellite was created to be an agile spacecraft that would research Gamma Ray Bursts. Not only has it sucessfully transmitted data to earth about Gamma Ray Bursts, it has also collected information on our neighboring galaxies; the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. With Swift still sending back data to Earth about our universe, one day we may be able to better perceive the space-time continuum.

This image of NASA's Swift satellite was created from the perception of a digital artist, it shows Swift photographing a Gamma Ray Burst, or GRB.

This gorgeous Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) is glowing with energy as it explodes, marking the death of a star and the birth of a black hole.

Swift's mission started at 12:16:00.611 PM EST., on November 20th, 2004 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FLA., Kennedy Space Center.

This is an actual photo Swift snapshoted, containing a full view of the Large Magellanic Cloud, and the Small Magellanic Cloud.

Glogster By: Autumn Mewhinney

A rainbow Gamma Ray Burst!

Gamma Ray Bursts were discovered in 1997 when the US sent the Vela satellites into space to monitor the Soviet Union setting off nuclear weapons in space. Instead of a nuclear explosion, the Vela satellites discovered a Gamma Ray Burst more than a decade ago.

This is Swift and each of its telescopes.

Another discovery Swift has recently made was one that included high energy x-rays in the Milky Way. These x-rays were produced by a Super Nova, which rarely occurs in space (Super Novas ensue when a storm of gas suddenly races towards a neutron star or black hole.) The rapidly brightening source of energy activated Swift's Burst Alert Telescope. This announced that a previously unknown black hole was inside of the Milky Way. Astronomers at NASA are currently studying this black hole.

A "Swift" Search Through Space!

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."-Carl Sagan


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