The Biggest Bangs: The Mystery of Gamma-ray Bursts, the Most Violent Explosions in the Universe

The Biggest Bangs: The Mystery of Gamma-ray Bursts, the Most Violent Explosions in the Universe

by Jonathan I. Katz


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Gamma-ray bursts are about ten times more energetic than the most powerful supernovae. At their peak, they are the brightest objects in space, about 100,000 times brighter than an entire galaxy. In The Biggest Bangs, astrophysicist Jonathan Katz offers a fascinating account of the scientific quest to unravel the mystery of these incredible phenomena. With an eye for colorful detail and a talent for translating scientific jargon into plain English, Katz ranges from the accidental discovery of gamma-ray bursts (by a Cold War satellite system monitoring the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) to the frustrating but ultimately successful efforts to localize these bursts in distant galaxies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195145700
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 06/06/2002
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Katz earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University at the age of twenty-two. A Professor of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis, he has worked on problems as diverse as X-ray stars, earthquakes, the fracture of glass, and gamma-ray bursts.

Table of Contents

3.Where Are They?21
4.What Are They?29
6.The Large Magellanic Cloud50
7.False Lines60
8.False Light70
9.The Copernican Dilemma82
10.Soft Gamma Repeaters94
12.The Great Debate116
13.The Theorists' Turn126
15.A Supernova Connection?152
16.The Holy Grail162
17.The End of the Beginning178
AppendixDid a Gamma-ray Burst Kill the Dinosaurs? Will a Burst Kill Us?185

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