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C. Understanding the Most Powerful Explosions in the Universe

Narrator: This is Science Today. After over twenty-five years of complete mystery and a lot of controversy, researchers have found within the last four years that gamma ray bursts are coming from very distant galaxies outside our own. Research physicist, Kevin Hurley, of the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Lab, recently helped locate a gamma-ray burst that broke all distance records.

Hurley: We're looking back at time - very, very far at early galaxies and what we think is happening there is that these early galaxies were beginning to form their stars and they probably formed very massive stars. Stars which have 30 or 40 times the mass of our sun and a star that massive lives its life in the fast lane. It exhausts all of its nuclear fuel very quickly, within about a million years, which is very short on astronomical time scales and then it explodes.

Narrator: And Hurley says gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the known universe.

Hurley: These gamma-ray bursts liberate more energy in about ten seconds than the sun will in its entire lifetime - so they're really monsters!

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.