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The Andromeda Galaxy Just Had a Bright Gamma Ray Event 129

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the alien-super-weapon dept.
First time accepted submitter SpaceMika (867804) writes "We just saw something bright in the Andromeda Galaxy, and we don't know what it was. A Gamma Ray Burst or an Ultraluminous X-Ray Object, either way it will be the closest of its type we've ever observed at just over 2 million light years away. It's the perfect distance: close enough to observe in unprecedented detail, and far enough to not kill us all."
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The Andromeda Galaxy Just Had a Bright Gamma Ray Event

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  • far enough (Score:4, Funny)

    by zakeria (1031430) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:49AM (#47107267) Homepage
    to not kill us 'ALL'
    • Update: And it wasn't, but actually a known X-ray source getting caught by mistake. The story of what happened is still pretty neat. Scroll to the bottom for the rest of the "...nevermind."

      Move along. Nothing to see here.

    • Human weaponry Zero. Alien Weaponry One. haha, we don't know do we?
  • "Just had"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:50AM (#47107273) Homepage

    Even for Slashdot 2 million years is a bit late.

    • by Chatsubo (807023) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @08:52AM (#47107923)

      The burst was created en route about 6000 years ago: So actually it never happened.

      (Please don't mod insightful)

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        If anything could motivate me to meta-mod, this will... :)

      • The burst was created en route about 6000 years ago: So actually it never happened.

        (Please don't mod insightful)

        Why not? That would be funny.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      2 million years late of what? how do you sinchronize your clock here and 2 million light years away to measure that time. Oh, wait...

      The moment you realize that when the light reach us is the same instant as when the light departed (considered it travelled in vacuum), you will start understanding relativity.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The moment you realize that when the light reach us is the same instant as when the light departed (considered it travelled in vacuum), you will start understanding relativity.

        Lolwut? It's the same instant to the light but it's not the same instant to us. That is relativity. Failing to mention the behaviour relative to the observer, and talking about "the same instant" as an absolute concept, is when you start looking like you don't understand relativity.

      • woosh

    • by bhagwad (1426855)

      Tell that to the photons reaching us from the event for whom it literally just happened. There's no such thing as an absolute time scale. Thank you special theory of relativity!

    • by johanwanderer (1078391) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @11:26AM (#47109861)
      See here: http://profmattstrassler.com/2... [profmattstrassler.com] "a known object in Andromeda that emits X-rays appeared to brighten, as a result of electronic noise in Swift’s instruments"
    • by tmjva (226065)

      I too was fixated on the word "Just" regardless of how old.

  • by sinij (911942) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:51AM (#47107281) Journal
    "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
  • by StupendousMan (69768) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:53AM (#47107299) Homepage

    The team which announced the event has now figured out that it wasn't interesting after all:

    TITLE: GCN CIRCULAR
    NUMBER: 16336
    SUBJECT: Swift trigger 600114 is not an outbursting X-ray source
    DATE: 14/05/28 07:57:12 GMT
    FROM: Kim Page at U.of Leicester

    K.L. Page, P.A. Evans (U. Leicester), D.N. Burrows (PSU), V. D'Elia (ASDC) and A. Maselli (INAF-IASFPA) report on behalf of the Swift-XRT team:

    We have re-analysed the prompt XRT data on Swift trigger 600114 (GCN Circ. 16332), taking advantage of the event data.

    The initial count rate given in GCN Circ. 16332 was based on raw data from the full field of view, without X-ray event detection, and therefore may have been affected by other sources in M31, as well as background hot pixels. Analysis of the event data (not fully available at the time of the initial circular) shows the count rate of the X-ray source identified in GCN Circ. 16332 to have been 0.065 +/- 0.012 count s^-1, consistent with the previous observations of this source [see the 1SXPS catalogue (Evans et al. 2014): http://www.swift.ac.uk/1SXPS/1... [swift.ac.uk].

    We therefore do not believe this source to be in outburst. Instead, it was a serendipitous constant source in the field of view of a BAT subthreshold trigger.

    This circular is an official product of the Swift-XRT team.

    Better luck next time.

  • Really bad news for those aliens trying to contact us from there. Oh well.

    • Unless it was some kind of alien weapon of mass destruction and they are performing a mass genocide. I can't help think that if we are not the only life form in the universe some would be just as or more perverse than we are and have been in our history.
  • Everything is relative, of course, but I'm not sure I would have run with the headline "The Andromeda Galaxy Just Had a Bright Gamma Ray Event" when the event occurred over two million years ago.

    • by invid (163714)
      Like you said, "everything is relative". For astronomers, two million years is a pretty short time. Unless you're waiting in the coffee line.
      • Proper astronomers, like proper programmers, have their own coffee pots. This is doubly true for astronomers who happen to be programmers. What's a coffee line?

        • Proper astronomers, like proper programmers, have their own coffee pots. This is doubly true for astronomers who happen to be programmers. What's a coffee line?

          A coffee line is an unbroken succession of heredity in coffee plants. Did you think it was merely a coincidence that the Arecibo observatory was placed in the coffee growing region of Puerto Rico?

    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      It's just as 'right' to think of events as happening at the same time when you don't correct for speed of light time between them.

      • If we're going to head down that road, we might as go ahead and note that time as humans perceive it is a purely fictitious construct based on limited perception (dimensional constraints). However, that's not a terribly good foundation for justifying failure to simply state things in terms that apply to our particular experience as a species.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Well, because "Two million years ago something happened in the Andromeda galaxy, and we're only just finding out about it now" is a lame headline.

      And in our frame of reference, it just happened. Or, apparently would have happened if it had actually happened, it just so happens that it didn't actually happen. Though, in the future something might happen. But nothing happened today in Andromeda. Even the thing which didn't happen. Because it would have happened a long time ago if it had happened. And if

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @08:14AM (#47107505)
    Self centered earthlings disgust me!! Who's to say this gamma ray burst didn't kill millions of inhabitants of some distant planet?
    • Not just one planet. This type of event has the potential to wipe the life off lots of planets in one go.
  • Woops! Nevermind. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @08:18AM (#47107543)

    This has been withdrawn. From

    http://gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/gcn/g... [nasa.gov]

    We therefore do not believe this source to be in outburst. Instead, it was
    a serendipitous constant source in the field of view of a BAT subthreshold
    trigger.

    This circular is an official product of the Swift-XRT team.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    False Alarm:

    Update (5/28/14 9:20 am EDT): This lalert may have been a false alarm. Further analysis showed the initial brightness was overestimated by a factor of 300. An official circular from the Swift-XRT team says Ãoetherefore do not believe this source to be in outburst. Instead, it was a serendipitous constant source in the field of view of a BAT subthreshold trigger.Ã WeÃ(TM)ll provide more details soon.

    Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/112194/possible-gamma-ray-burst-detected-in

  • by js3 (319268) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @08:29AM (#47107659)

    "The event" means Jesus is on his way. Go to church people

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      "The event" means Jesus is on his way.

      Ironic then that it's a false alarm.

      But even if it did happen, it happened two million years ago, when mankind was little more than short walking chimps. Hard to believe Jesus made an enormous explosion in some other galaxy that would have no effect here 2 million years before being born. Or maybe you're just being funny. Hard to tell sometimes.

  • It was the Andromedans flashing a mirror aimed at us right back in our direction.
    If we examine closely, we might see what our oldest African ancestors really
    looked like, how they struggled to get by on their hind legs, and how they had no
    inkling of a concept of space and time and constellations and galaxies named
    Andromeda.

    .

    • by tekrat (242117)

      Or we could see nothing, because according to the creationists, the universe is only 6000 years old.

    • by amaurea (2900163)

      In theory, all we need to do is find a black hole and look with unreasonably high resolution and sensitivity at a point slightly more than 0.5 black hole radii away from its horizon (i.e. 1.5 schwarzchild radii from the center). The black hole acts as a lens, and at that point light is deflected by 180 degrees, letting us look back at ourselves as the earth was 2d years ago, where d is the distance to the hole in lightyears. In fact, by looking even closer to the point 0.5 black hole radii away, you can get

  • Who are the lucky contestants?

  • Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, a death star was just blown up to smithereens by the rebel forces :-)

  • CNN will ask the question if Climate Change here on earth caused it.
  • I could've sworn I watched a documentary that stated gamma ray bursts are only observed at extremely long distances so there's little likelihood of one occurring close enough to be a threat to us. Right or wrong?

    • by amaurea (2900163)

      From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]

      Estimating the exact rate at which GRBs occur is difficult, but for a galaxy of approximately the same size as the Milky Way, the expected rate (for long-duration GRBs) is about one burst every 100,000 to 1,000,000 years. Only a small percentage of these would be beamed towards Earth. Estimates of rate of occurrence of short-duration GRBs are even more uncertain because of the unknown degree of collimation, but are probably comparable

      So they are mostly seen very far away due to volume effects. There are far more galaxies >100 Mly away than galaxies 100 Mly away, for example.

  • Looks like someone in the Andromeda Galaxy just worked out how to make a doomsday weapon.

    There goes the galactic neighborhood.
  • Since we can't predict anything about its future behavior. Say, I was asking myself yesterday, why there didn't seem to be any other intelligent technological life in the universe. I wonder...

  • It's proof that Jesus has entered our universe and is coming to Earth to rapture his people. Unless you can prove this isn't true, to the same level as say, the fundamental theorem of Calculus, then it has to be true. Hallelujah praise Jesus.

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