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News Release 96 of 123

June 10, 1997 11:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-20

Gamma-Ray Bursts Common To Normal Galaxies? Hubble Data Offer New Clues and Puzzles

June 10, 1997: Nature's most powerful explosions, gamma-ray bursts, occur among the normal stellar population inside galaxies scattered across the universe. The energy released in such a titanic explosion, which can last from a fraction of a second to a few hundred seconds, is equal to all of the Sun's energy generated over its 10-billion-year lifetime.

Here is the visible glow from one such burst, GRB 970228. This Hubble telescope picture is the first visible-light view ever taken that links a gamma-ray burst with a potential host galaxy. This observation provides strong supporting evidence that gamma-ray bursts are cosmological- they originate in distant galaxies across the universe. The arrow points to the fireball, which is the white blob immediately to the upper left of center. Immediately to the lower right of center is an extended object (roughly resembling an "E") and interpreted to be the host galaxy where the gamma-ray burst is embedded.

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Credit: K. Sahu, M. Livio, L. Petro, D. Macchetto, STScI and NASA