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Swift detection of a gamma-ray burst

For the first time, a telescope has directly detected X rays from a gamma-ray burst, the most powerful type of explosion in the universe. Gamma-ray bursts, which may be generated by the sudden collapse of extremely massive stars, also are the likely birth cries of black holes.

The Swift spacecraft, launched by NASA late last November to study gamma-ray bursts and their afterglows, recorded the X rays on Jan. 17, during a relatively long-lived burst dubbed GRB050117. Three minutes and 12 seconds after Swift's gamma-ray telescope found the burst, the craft automatically turned its X-ray telescope to the same point in the sky.

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