In a few seconds gamma-ray bursts emit more energy into the depths of the universe than the sun in billions of years, explains the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in a press release. There are various theories on what causes them, but so far none of them have been proven.
A detector developed at the PSI could help to answer the question of the origin of the gamma-ray bursts. POLAR has already recorded several dozen gamma ray bursts. An evaluation of five of them shows that their light has a low polarisation level. Theories assuming that the light from the deep-space flashes has a high level of polarisation are therefore less likely.
POLAR was developed by PSI scientists together with colleagues from Poland and from the University of Geneva and the Chinese Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IHEP-CAS). The detector has also orbited the earth with the latest Chinese space lab Tiangong 2.
Scientists will make the data from all the gamma-ray bursts registered by POLA available to their colleagues worldwide on the virtual PSI POLAR Data Centre platform. In this way, scientists elsewhere who have observed the same gamma-ray bursts with their own detectors will be able to compare their data records with those of POLAR, explains the PSI in its press release.