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Cosmic Cataclyms Essay, Research Paper

Critical Review

In November of 1999 an article about cosmic cataclysms appeared in Time magazine. A cosmic cataclysm is also known as a gamma-ray burst. These gamma bursts can?t be seen with the naked eye and they release more energy than our sun releases in its whole lifetime. As of now, no one is really sure what?s causing these large blasts. Hopefully this will change as astrophysicists meet to discuss the blasts and as satellites are launched into space to capture the phenomenon. Even though no one is positively sure why the blasts occur, some have ideas. One theory deals with dead stars that turn into very dense neutron stars that hold powerful gravity fields. If it should happen that two of these neutron stars should start to orbit each other it would result in a massive gamma burst. There have also been talks about great stellar outbursts called hypernovas, or supernovas. Regardless of whatever causes the burst, they?ve been around forever and they happen over three hundred times a year.

When reading this article there were many questions I wished I could have asked. I was most curious about the possibility of this same thing happening to all dead stars. I came to the conclusion that if all dead stars can turn into neutron stars than it?s always possible that the star can get caught up in another stars orbit. This article had much relevance to some of the things we?ve discussed in class. We?ve discussed the birth and death of stars in class so while reading this article it answered some of my questions about stars after death. I didn?t know if a dead star kept orbiting like it did while alive or if the star exploded. I guess I thought that the star kept the same orbit and the properties changed, such as temperature, composition, density, and so on. Now I know that things like gamma bursts can happen causing an explosion that gives off a huge energy blast. I also think that if we knew what causes the blasts maybe we can have a better understanding of dead stars if the theory of neutron stars colliding is true.

This article was written for the common man. I don?t consider myself too knowledgeable of astronomy, but I understood everything that was discussed. I would express my opinion on the cause of the gamma blast, but I wouldn?t even know where to start. I just know that when we discover the cause we will be able to explain more about the stranger things in the universe. I think that this article was printed to inform the public that there are things in space that can?t be explained just quite yet, but if we keep up the work we will soon discover more and more things that help us learn how the universe works.

In conclusion there are cosmic cataclysms, or gamma-ray bursts that occur over three hundred times a year and produce more energy than our sun produces over its whole lifetime. Astronomers aren?t positive what causes the bursts what they seem to think it?s the result of two dead neutron stars colliding while orbiting each other. Satellites are going to be launched to hopefully give us more of an idea of what?s going on. These results could help us understand more about dead stars and they could help us understand many more things in the universe.


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