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No. 13: Winter 1981

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Tidal Wave Of Gammas Sweeps Solar System

On March 5, 1979, a colossal burst of gamma rays swept through the solar system, triggering radiation detectors on nine different spacecraft. By comparing the times of arrival of the burst, the direction of the source was narrowed down to a "box" a couple of arc minutes across. Gamma-ray bursts have never before been correlated with visible sources, but this time the box contained the remnants of a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way.

The anomaly that arises involves the immense distance of the supposed source and the strength of the burst when it reached the solar system. The power level of the supernova remnant gamma flash would have had to be about 1037 watts -- a stupendous figure. If the supernova remnant is a neutron star, as current theories suggest, the neutron star would have to be 10 to 100 times the size of the usual neutron stars.

(Anonymous; "Gamma-Ray Burst Comes from Outside the Galaxy," New Scientist, 87:776, 1980.)

From Science Frontiers #13, Winter 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987