This image shows the most common type of gamma-ray burst, thought to occur when a massive star collapses, forms a black hole, and blasts particle jets outward at nearly the speed of light. | NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

A Dying Star's Explosive ‘Fireball' Blast Aimed a Beam of Gamma Rays at Earth

One of the brightest gamma-ray bursts ever observed briefly released as much energy as the sun will emit over its lifetime, directing a narrow beam of gamma rays toward Earth by chance.

“We think the gamma-ray emission is due to highly energetic electrons, propelled outward like a fireball.”
the fading afterglow of the June 2016 gamma-ray burster can be seen where the arrow is pointing in this sequence, which ran from June 26 through Aug. 20, 2016. | Nathaniel Butler/ASU