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E. Researchers Strive to Better Understand Gamma Ray Bursts

Narrator: This is Science Today. The Center for Supernova Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz does more than just investigate massive explosions known as supernovae. Stan Woosley, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics who directs the center, says they're interested in all violent explosions that stars produce.

Woosley: So we study something called gamma ray bursts as well, and I think our group has the leading model for what they are. Gamma ray bursts are a very interesting subject. The observed phenomena has been with us ever since the early 1970s and I guess about one of those happens a day - but you can't see them on the Earth. So they weren't discovered until satellites went up in space, saw a gamma ray emission.

Narrator: What you see is a sudden, very intense flash of light.

Woosley: Trying to understand how something the size of a star can do this has been a major theoretical challenge and we think now that they have something to do with supernovae - that the same engine that powers supernovae also powers gamma ray bursts - maybe with a slight difference.

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