|Gamma-ray bursts. We tend to think of them as big explosions – but it has been suggested that they might actually be Small Bangs. Credit: NASA.|
Most gamma-ray bursts come in two flavors. Firstly, there are long duration bursts which form in dense star-forming regions and are associated with supernovae – which would understandably generate a sustained outburst of energy. The technical definition of a long duration gamma-ray burst is one that is more than two seconds in duration – but bursts lasting over a minute are not unusual.
Short duration gamma-ray bursts more often occur in regions of low star formation and are not associated with supernovae. Their duration is technically less than 2 seconds, but a duration of only a few milliseconds is not unusual. These are assumed to result from collisions between massive compact objects – perhaps neutron stars or black holes – producing a short, sharp outburst of energy. See: Astronomy Without A Telescope – Small Bangs by Steve Nerlich on May 21, 2011 On Universe Today
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