Kazakh Astrophysicists Make Breakthrough Observation of Gamma-Ray Bursts

ASTANA – The Nazarbayev University’s telescope, located at the Assy-Turgen Astrophysical Observatory in the Almaty Region, made a unique and innovative observation of a cosmic event called a gamma-ray burst (GRB) on March 28, reported the university’s press service on April 5.

Nazarbayev University’s telescope is located at the Assy-Turgen Astrophysical Observatory in the Almaty Region. Photo credit: Nazarbayev University.

GRBs are the most energetic and luminous electromagnetic events in the universe. Despite decades of work by the international scientific community, their exact nature and parameters are still to be discovered.

Kazakh astrophysicists were the first in the world to record GRB and receive the earliest data on the light afterglow just 41 seconds after the start of the phenomenon. The event was observed simultaneously in the green, red, and infrared ranges, giving a better idea of the signal’s spectrum.

Photo credit: Nazarbayev University.

The results of the observation have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal. 

The earliest observation, recorded by 14 observatories, was made 30 minutes after the trigger.

The research team at the Nazarbayev University Energy Space Laboratory is now analyzing the observed data, which is expected to shed light on the nature of GRBs.

“GRB is unique in that it occurred at a distance of five billion light years. It is assumed that the destruction of the dust causes the color change at the earliest stage of the GRB. Observing such phenomena at an early stage requires a telescope that moves very quickly and captures several wavelengths at the same time. There are only a few such telescopes in the world, and all of them can observe only after one hour at maximum speed. The Kazakh telescope can turn around and observe any celestial object in eight seconds,” said Tokhtarkhan Komesh, a researcher at the Nazarbayev University Energy Space Laboratory.

Energy Space Laboratory is an astrophysics laboratory founded by Nobel Prize winner George Fitzgerald Smoot in 2016 at the Nazarbayev University. Its main goal is to understand fundamental problems in physics and astrophysics and contribute to the university’s technical know-how and innovation ecosystem.

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