Gamma-ray bursts are among the most energetic cosmic events known, emitting as much energy in a few seconds as our entire galaxy does in a year, most of it in the form of Gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light.
A state-of-the-art simulation running for nearly seven weeks on the Damiana computer cluster at the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, Germany, models events that unfold in just 35 milliseconds -- about three times faster than the blink of an eye, a NASA release said Thursday.
GRBs lasting longer than 2 seconds are widely thought to be triggered by the collapse of a massive star into a black hole.
As matter falls toward the black hole, some of it forms jets in the opposite direction that move near the speed of light and produce a blast of Gamma rays as they emerge.
Shorter GRBs, lasting only milliseconds, are harder to study.
"For more than two decades, the leading model of short GRBs was the merger of two neutron stars," Bruno Giacomazzo at the University of Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said.
"Only now can we show that the merger of neutron stars actually produces an ultrastrong magnetic field structured like the jets needed for a GRB."