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Cosmic Shockwave: India's Lightning Detectors Catch Intense Burst From Two Billion Light-Years Away

In a groundbreaking cosmic event, lightning detectors in India detected a powerful burst of energy believed to originate from outside the solar system.

The event, named GRB 221009A, was a gamma-ray burst (GRB) detected on 9 October, 2022, by the European Space Agency’s Integral space telescope.

This burst, originating nearly two billion light-years away, is one of the most potent GRBs recorded. The Integral mission, launched in 2002, identified GRB 221009A as possibly the brightest gamma-ray burst ever detected, surpassing its closest competitor by tenfold, an occurrence expected once every 10,000 years.

The burst, lasting 800 seconds, caused a significant ionospheric disturbance on Earth, affecting the plasma-rich layer from 50 km to 950 km above the surface.

Lightning detectors in India were triggered, and instruments in Germany recorded hours of disturbance.

The China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES) confirmed the disturbance by observing a strong electric field variation in the top-side ionosphere.

This discovery highlights the tangible effects of cosmic events occurring billions of light-years away on Earth.

Such events, if within our galaxy, could have severe implications, potentially damaging the ozone layer and causing harmful ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth's surface.

The research team is now analysing past CSES data to correlate it with other gamma-ray bursts detected by Integral, armed with new insights into these cosmic phenomena.

By Bhuvan Krishna


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