“XMM-Newton’s space-based location and sensitive X-ray instruments were key to observing the later stages of this blast, several months after it first appeared,” says ESA's XMM-Newton project scientist Norbert Schartel.
“At these times, the fingerprints of the progenitor star were clearer, but the source itself was so dim that only XMM-Newton’s instruments were sensitive enough to take the detailed measurements needed to characterise the explosion.”
A number of space- and ground-based missions were involved in the discovery and characterisation of GRB130925A. Alongside the XMM-Newton observations, the astronomers involved in this study also used X-ray data gathered at different times with NASA’s SwiftBurst Alert Telescope, and radio data from the CSIRO's Australia Telescope Compact Array.
“Combining these observations was crucial to get a full picture of this event,” added Eleonora Troja of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA, a co-author of the paper.
“This new understanding of GRB130925A means that we now have strong indications how a primordial explosion might look — and therefore what to search for in the distant Universe,” says Dr Schartel.
The search will require powerful facilities. The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, an infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope due for launch in 2018, and ESA’s planned Athena mission, a large X-ray observatory following on from XMM-Newton in 2028, will both have key roles to play.
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