Monster Deep-Space Explosion Breaks X-Ray Specs
“The burst was so bright when it first erupted that our data-analysis software shut down. So many photons were bombarding the detector each second that it just couldn’t count them quickly enough. It was like trying to use a rain gauge and a bucket to measure the flow rate of a tsunami … When I first saw the strange data from this burst, I knew that I had discovered something extraordinary. It was an indescribable feeling when I realized, at that moment, that I was the only person in the whole universe who knew that this extraordinary event had occurred.”
–Phil Evans, a postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Leicester, reports the discovery of the most powerful explosion of deep-space X-rays ever recorded. The blast, detected on June 21st through software Evans helped write for NASA’s Swift Satellite, is thought to have been the result of a star collapsing to form a black hole in a galaxy five billion light years from Earth. Evans’ sense of power and euphoria wore off as soon as he realized that such a discovery would probably still not retroactively make him popular in high school.