Gamma Ray Bursts, Gravity Waves, and
The earthquake that produced it was so strong that it exceeded by a factor of 10 the next most powerful earthquake to occur in the past 25 years.
It is then with some alarm that we learn that just 44.6 hours later gamma ray telescopes orbiting the Earth picked up the arrival of the brightest gamma ray burst ever recorded!
This gamma ray blast was 100 times more intense than any burst that had been previously recorded, equaling the brightness of the full Moon, but radiating most of its energy at gamma ray wavelengths.
Gamma ray counts spiked to a maximum in 1.5 seconds and then declined over a 5 minute period with 7.57 second pulsations.
courtesy of NASA
It was determined that the burst originated from the soft gamma ray repeater star, SGR 1806-20, a neutron star 20 kilometers in diameter which rotates once every 7.5 seconds, matching the GRB pulsation period.
SGR 1806-20 is located about 10 degrees northeast of the Galactic center and about 45,000 light years from us, or about twice as far away as the Galactic center. It released more energy in a tenth of a second than the Sun emits in 100,000 years.
Other gamma ray bursts have been detected whose explosions were intrinsically more powerful than this one at the source of the explosion, but since those explosions originated in other galaxies tens of thousands of times more distant, the bursts were not nearly as bright when they reached our solar system.
What makes the December 27th gamma ray burst unique is that it is
the first time that a burst this bright has been observed, one that
also happens to originate from within our own Galaxy.
After a 45,000 year light-speed journey, a gamma ray burst arrival delay of 44.6 hours would not be unexpected. It amounts to a delay of just one part in 9 million. So if the gravity wave traveled at the speed of light (c), the gamma ray burst would have averaged a speed of 0.99999989 c, just 0.11 millionths slower.
There is also the possibility that at the beginning of its journey the gravity wave may have had a superluminal speed; see textbox below.
courtesy of NASA
The 9.3 Richter earthquake was ten times stronger than any other earthquake during the past 25 years, and was followed just 44.6 hours later on December 27th by a very intense gamma ray burst, which was 100 fold brighter than any other in the past 25 year history of gamma ray observation.
It seems difficult to
pass off the temporal proximity of these two Class I events as being
just a matter of coincidence. A time period of 25 years compared to
a time separation of 44.6 hours amounts to a time ratio of about
5000:1. For two such unique events to have such a close time
proximity is highly improbable if they are not somehow related. But,
as mentioned above, gravity waves would very likely be associated
with gamma ray bursts, and they would be expected to precede them.
that the December 27th gamma ray burst had slightly affected the
ionization state of the Earth’s atmosphere, but this by itself should not have caused earthquakes. However, if a longitudinal
gravity potential wave pulse were to accompany a gamma ray burst,
the mystery becomes resolved. The connection between earthquakes and
gamma ray bursts now becomes plausible.
In his book Earth Under Fire (as well as in his dissertation), he presents evidence showing that the superwave that passed through the solar system around 14,200 years ago had triggered supernova explosions as it swept through the Galaxy.
these were the
Crab supernova explosions whose explosion
dates align with this superwave event horizon. He points out that
these explosions could be explained if a gravity wave accompanied
this superwave, it could have produced tidal forces which could have
triggered unstable stars to explode as it passed through.
By comparison, the Galactic superwaves LaViolette has postulated to have been generated as a result of an outburst of our Galaxy’s core and to have impacted the Solar system during the last ice age would have impacted the solar system with a cosmic ray electron volley having an energy intensity 100 times greater than this hypothetical 10 light year distant stellar gamma ray burst. In comparison, SGR 1806-20 has been estimated to have a stellar progenitor mass of 150 solar masses, whereas our Galactic core has a mass of 2.6 million solar masses.
In its present active phase, SGR
1806-20 is estimated to have a luminosity 40 million times that of
the Sun, whereas during its active phase the Galactic center could
reach luminosities of 400 trillion times that of the Sun. So it is
understandable that if the Galactic center were to erupt, it would
produce a gamma ray burst and a gravity wave far more intense than
the outburst from this star.
Like the December 26th earthquake and the December 27th gamma ray burst, the next superwave will arrive unexpectedly. It will take us by surprise.
As a next step, it is advisable to investigate data from gravity wave telescopes to see if a celestial gravity wave may have arrived immediately prior to the December 26, 2004 earthquake.
Since seismic waves from the Indonesian earthquake would have taken some time to propagate through the Earth to these gravity wave antenna, their signature could be distinguished from the gravity wave coming from SGR 1806-20. LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravity Wave Observatory), which consists of two correlated telescopes, one in Washington and one in Louisiana, each having a 4 kilometer long laser interferometer beam path, was in the process of being made operational and unfortunately was not collecting data at that time.
The TAMA gravity wave antenna in Japan may have been operational
during the December time period however they apparently do not
answer telephone calls and have no posted email address. So it has
not been possible to contact their scientific team.
The December 27th GRB was not accompanied by any rise in the cosmic ray background, indicating that if it was accompanied by cosmic rays their intensity was unable to exceed the relatively constant extragalactic background flux arriving from distant galaxies.
A Galactic superwave, on the other
hand, would most likely produce a substantial rise in these levels.
intense activity were to occur in the near future as the beginning
stages of a superwave arrival, it is hoped that scientists will not
keep this knowledge to themselves but rather allow the global news
media to disseminate the story quickly to inform the world.