Using scores of telescopes, astronomers worldwide are chasing one of the most intriguing stellar explosions detected in nearly a decade. The supernova—a catastrophic collapse of a massive star—is one of only a handful of these explosions known to have been heralded by a burst of gamma rays.
The observations confirm that material blasting out from a collapsing star generates a gamma-ray burst. The burst races out into space ahead of the visible, fiery glow from the supernova explosion.
A gamma-ray burst typically lies too far away—billions of light-years—and has an afterglow too bright to permit astronomers to detect the underlying supernova. But the new burst, recorded by NASA's Swift satelli