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Gamma Ray Bursts Linked to Condensing Stars

April 05, 2001

Gamma ray bursts--the most intense explosions in the universe--apparently originate in stellar nurseries where new stars are condensing from primordial gases, researchers said Wednesday at a gamma ray conference in Baltimore. The discovery is particularly exciting, according to astronomer Fiona Harrison of Caltech, because the gamma rays allow researchers to see inside so-called starburst galaxies, which are shielded from examination with visible light by clouds of dust.

Harrison said a gamma ray burst detected in February has been traced to a galaxy nearly 8 billion light-years from Earth where as many as 500 new stars, each about the size of our own sun, are being formed each year.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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