Scientists witness biggest, brightest cosmic explosion ever seen

Scientists witness biggest, brightest cosmic explosion ever seen, call it a 'monster'

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Swift's X-Ray Telescope took this 0.1-second exposure of GRB 130427A at 3:50 a.m. EDT on April 27, just moments after Fermi and Swift detected the outburst. The image is 6.5 arcminutes across. Swift's X-Ray Telescope took this 0.1-second exposure of GRB 130427A at 3:50 a.m. EDT on April 27, just moments after Fermi and Swift detected the outburst. The image is 6.5 arcminutes across.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Astronomers have witnessed a cosmic explosion bigger and brighter than any except the Big Bang.

Orbiting telescopes got the fireworks show last spring when they spotted what is known as a gamma ray burst in a far-off galaxy.

NASA astrophysics chief Paul Hertz calls it "a once-in-a-century cosmic event." A gamma ray burst happens when a massive star dies, collapses into a brand-new black hole, explodes in what's called a supernova and ejects energetic radiation.

Astronomers say a planet caught in one of these bursts would lose its atmosphere instantly and would be left a burnt cinder.

But because the blast was 3.7 billion light-years away, mankind was spared. In fact, no one on Earth could even see it with the naked eye.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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