Astronomers get burst of details from early universe

Unusually bright afterglow records what a galaxy was like soon after Big Bang

By Ron Cowen, 18:01 PM January 6, 2009

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Like a searchlight illuminating the distant past, the afterglow of a powerful gamma-ray burst has revealed what a stellar nursery in a remote galaxy looked like just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. The burst offers one of the earliest views of a star-forming region in the universe, which is now 13.7 billion years old.

The gamma-ray burst, recorded on June 7, 2008, and dubbed GRB 080607, is believed to have been generated when a massive star suddenly collapsed to for...

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