Swift & GRB in a Nutshell
Swift is mission dedicated to the observations of Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) but also lot of challenging non-GRB science has been performed.
GRBs are the most powerful explosions the Universe has seen since the Big Bang.
They occur approximately once per day and are brief, but intense flashes of gamma radiation.
They come from all different directions of the sky and last from a few milliseconds to
a few hundred seconds. So far scientists do not know what causes them.
Do they signal the birth of a black hole in a massive stellar explosion?
Are they the product of the collision of two neutron stars?
Or is it some other exotic phenomenon that causes these bursts?
With Swift, launched on Nov 20th, 2004, scientists now have a tool dedicated
to answering these questions and solving the gamma-ray burst mystery,
with an ability to scrutinize these sources like never before.
Swift relays a burst's location to ground stations within seconds after the burst onset,
allowing both ground-based and space-based telescopes around the world the opportunity
to observe the burst's afterglow.
Three instruments are on board Swift:
During the first four years of the mission, Swift triggered hundreds of bursts with the BAT
(with an average rate of about 90 GRB per year), representing the most comprehensive study
so far of GRBs and their afterglows.