My name is Jason Crow and I am involved in a scientific procedure to search for gamma ray bursts occurring in space.

For many years, gamma ray bursts have been occurring in the space around us. Not until within this past half century have scientists started researching these bursts to find out what they are and where they are coming from.
Gamma rays make up the highest energy part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelength of a gamma ray is no longer than the distance across the nucleus of an atom, causing it to have a very high frequency. They can be caused by various occurrences in space, one of those being supernovae (plural of supernova). A supernova is when a star explodes, and left behind is a very dense neutron star. The star spins very quickly and can release gamma radiation into space. There are many other causes of gamma rays, such as solar flares and a type of potassium, that is radioactive, in granite rock, and scientists are researching these causes and other possibilities to see if they can find more causes of these mysterious gamma rays.

On April 5, 1991, the space shuttle, Atlantis, carried the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory into orbit in space from Kennedy Space Center. The 17-ton observatory was put into orbit 450 km above the earth and has been orbiting ever since. Since it was put into space, the observatory has been receiving and sending data about gamma ray bursts to researchers on earth.

This is the Gamma Ray Observatory

When the scientists receive data about a burst, they must first check to see if it truly was a burst of gamma rays. Once that has been confirmed, the scientists then create an image of the burst, using different programs, and figure out the area in space where the burst occurred from. However, they have only been able to locate the bursts to within a degree in space, which contains a very large area of space.

This is a picture of a gamma ray burst in space. The intensity of the burst is shown by the increasing brightness of the colors.

What my partner, Paul Novello, and I are doing for our project at Project SMART is looking at data received, in 1991, from the Compton Telescope, one of the instruments aboard the observatory, for gamma ray bursts.
First, we enter in the data we have into a program, called COMPASS, which will create a light curve for the specified time of day. The light curve shows us the amount of gamma radiation occurring in space. When we look at the light curve, we search for "spikes" in the data, which indicate a possible gamma ray burst. Once we find a spike, we blow up the image, for the time period where the spike is, so that we can look at the curve and see if there is a spike in the data. When we have confirmed that there is a definite possibility that it is a burst, we use another program to create an image of the burst (which you saw above). After this is done, we then use the image to locate where the burst came from in space.
By clicking on these images, you can see a larger image of the light curve and blow-up of a light curve. The spike on the bigger light curve is located at around 70,000 seconds. When Paul and I blew up the time period around the spike, we got the second image, showing us that there was, in fact, a spike in the Comptel data. After doing this, we then used a program to create an image of the gamma ray itself through the eyes of the Compton Telescope. Click here to see gamma ray burst.

Still don't know about your gamma rays?
Here are some sites you can go to......
go here to search for gamma rays
The Compton Gamma Ray page is here
A USA Today article on gamma ray bursts
You can find many sites about gamma rays, all you need to do is search.................good luck!!
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me at
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