Blasts That Create Gamma-Ray Bursts May Actually Exceed Speed Of Light 

Eddie Gonzales Jr. – – New research indicates that blasts that create gamma-ray bursts may actually exceed the speed of light in surrounding gas clouds, but do so without violating Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Astrophysicists Jon Hakkila of the College of Charleston and Robert Nemiroff of the Michigan Technological University propose that such superluminal jets could create the time-reversibility seen in gamma-ray burst light curves.

A drawing of a superluminal jet. (Illustration by DESY, Science Communication Lab)A drawing of a superluminal jet. (Illustration by DESY, Science Communication Lab)

These proposed jets, however, do not violate Einstein’s relativity because they only move faster than light does through the jet medium, not faster than light through a vacuum.

A good way to visualize this superluminal motion is to imagine someone on one side of a pond skipping a stone across the water in your direction. The frequently-hopping stone moves through the air between hops faster than the waves it generates move through the water.

“You would see waves created by each skip of the approaching stone in reverse order, with waves from the most recent skip arriving first and those from the initial skip arriving last,” Hakkila said in a press release.

“This superluminal blast explanation retains many characteristics of accepted gamma-ray burst jet models”

According to Nemiroff, the proposed scenario involves Cherenkov radiation, a type of light created by superluminal motion that was not previously thought to be important in generating the light curves of gamma-ray bursts.

“Standard gamma-ray burst models have neglected time-reversible light curve properties. Superluminal jet motion accounts for these properties while retaining a great many standard model features,” Hakkila said.


Written by Eddie Gonzales Jr. – Staff