GCN Follow-up

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On March 26, 2009, Newcastle Observatory joined NASA's Gamma Ray Burst Coordinates Network (GCN) to perform follow-up optical astrometric (postional) and photometric observations of gamma ray bursts (GRBs).

GRBs are probably the most violent explosive events in the cosmos, and can be many billions of light-years away. The total energy released can be greater than that of an entire galaxy, but only for a few moments. Gamma rays from these explosive events (probably merging black holes and neutron stars) are first detected by orbiting spacecraft (SWIFT, INTEGRAL, etc.) which relay astrometric information (right ascension and declination) to ground-based telescopes for follow-up postional (astrometric) and photometric observation in many wavelengths.  Newcastle observatory receives postional information within minutes of the spacecrafts's detection of gamma rays, slews the telescope to the GRB target to perform optical observations of the burst "afterglow", and measures the rate of "decay" of the afterglow over a period of minutes, hours and days.

For more information about the GCN, please visit: http://gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/.