Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

February 28, 1996

Explosions Discovered Near Galactic Center
Drawing Credit: J. Schoemer (NASM)

Explanation: Tremendous explosions near the center of our Galaxy were discovered just this past December and are being announced today by a paper in Nature and a press conference at NASA. Bursts like these have never been seen before, and so the exact cause is unknown and will likely be the source of astronomical speculations and observations for years to come. Much more powerful than any explosions we humans can create, these eruptions likely involve the extreme conditions found only on the surface of a neutron star in a binary system, possibly similar to the X-ray binary system depicted in the above drawing. The new source, dubbed GRO J1744-28 for its discovery spacecraft and position, currently produces multiple pulsed bursts of energy per day, each of which last several seconds. The bursts are quite prominent in X-ray light. Discovery team leaders include Chryssa Kouveliotou (USRA) and Gerald Fishman (NASA /MSFC).

Tomorrow's picture: Julius Caesar and Leap Days

| Archive | Index | Search | Glossary | Education | About APOD |

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC