This is Science Today. For the first time, a new robotic
telescope system has captured images of a gamma-ray
burst in action. James Wren, a researcher at the Los
Alamos National Laboratory, who is part of this collaborative
effort, says these images give astronomers more insight
into what's long been a mysterious phenomenon.
A gamma-ray burst is an unknown, very energetic explosion
in the far reaches of space and before this experiment,
people thought that seeing a gamma ray burst with
an instrument of this size was impossible.
The telescope, called ROTSE-1, features ordinary telescopic
lenses and highly sensitive electronic cameras. Once
tipped off by a satellite that detects gamma-ray bursts,
that telescope robotically swings to that area and
begins snapping away.
Over the course of a night, we can photograph about
70% of the night sky, down to magnitude fifteen. We
actually do that four times a night and that data
is just a gold mine for finding all kinds of astronomical
phenomena and things maybe that people haven't thought
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.