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News Release Archive:

News Release 97 of 121

April 1, 1997 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-10

Hubble Tracks the Fading Optical Counterpart of a Gamma-Ray Burst

April 1, 1997: The Hubble telescope has made an important contribution toward solving one of astronomy's greatest enigmas by allowing astronomers to continue watching the fading visible-light counterpart of a gamma-ray burst, one of the most energetic and mysterious events in the universe.

The so-called optical counterpart is presumably a cooling fireball from the catastrophic event that triggered the massive burst of invisible gamma rays ? the highest-energy radiation in the universe. This event may have unleashed as much energy in a few seconds as the Sun does in 10 billion years! The orange dot in the center of this Hubble image represents the burst's visible-light glow.

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Credit: STScI and NASA