(TMU) — Scientists have been trying to get a better understanding of gamma ray bursts for decades.
Now, according to astrophysicists, new observations suggest that superliminal gamma ray bursts may exceed the speed of light, though this does not actually violate Einstein’s theory of relativity. The scientists also say the light curvature of these cosmic gamma jet-streams express a bizarre characteristic known as time-reversibility.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), which are the brightest electromagnetic event in the known universe, are believed to occur when a high-mass star goes supernova and rapidly collapses into a neutron star or black hole. Black-hole powered galaxies, known as blazars, are thought to be the most common source.
In their stunning new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, astrophysicists Jon Hakkila of the College of Charleston and Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University, explain how GRBs may exceed the speed of light in localized gas clouds.
They do not, however, violate Einstein’s theory of general relativity—which states that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum— because the gamma ray bursts are not actually traveling in a vacuum but rather the jet medium.
GRBs also feature time-reversibility, an extremely complex phenomena that similarly does not violate any known laws of physics and that can be expressed mathematically or in thermodynamics.
The paper’s authors compare GRB speed and time-reversibility to a person on one side of a pond skipping a stone toward another person on the other side of a pond: the stone will travel through the air faster than its emergent waves can travel through the water; and the waves will arrive at the person on the other side in reverse order, with the most recently created waves arriving first.
“Standard gamma-ray burst models have neglected time-reversible light curve properties,” Hakkila says. “Superluminal jet motion accounts for these properties while retaining a great many standard model features.”