The GRB afterglow could also probe how much neutral hydrogen exists between galaxies at this time. Today, just about all of the hydrogen in between galaxies is ionized, but it only became this way during the first billion years of history when ultraviolet light from young stars in young galaxies ripped the electrons away from the hydrogen nuclei. The astronomers did find a bit of neutral hydrogen still around this GRB's host galaxy, consistent with findings from quasars. This is promising, since multiple methods of probing the same astrophysical setting help reduce certain errors or biases. It's always good to have a check!
ANALYSIS: Kilonova Alert! Hubble Solves Gamma Ray Burst Mystery
As GRB130606A is one of the furthest GRBs detected, it certainly had much to offer in the way of science results. These massive explosions are terrifying but wonderful, and help us to understand the weird and huge Universe in which we live.
Image: This artist's illustration depicts a gamma-ray burst illuminating clouds of interstellar gas in its host galaxy and intergalactic gas between the distant galaxy and us. The gas absorbs certain frequencies of light in the spectrum, allowing us to determine the makeup and amount of gas in the galaxy and along the line of sight. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA, artwork by Lynette Cook This research will be published in Astrophysical Journal, and a preprint is available on arXiv.org.