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Contact: Francis Reddy
Francis.j.reddy@nasa.gov
301-286-4453
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

GRB 101225A, Better Known as the 'Christmas Burst'

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Caption: GRB 101225A, better known as the "Christmas burst," was an unusually long-lasting gamma-ray burst. Because its distance was not measured, astronomers came up with two radically different interpretations. In the first, a solitary neutron star in our own galaxy shredded and accreted an approaching comet-like body. In the second, a neutron star is engulfed by, spirals into and merges with an evolved giant star in a distant galaxy. Now, thanks to a measurement of the Christmas burst's host galaxy, astronomers have determined that it represented the collapse and explosion of a supergiant star hundreds of times larger than the sun.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Related news release: Dying supergiant stars implicated in hours-long gamma-ray bursts


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