The Incredible ASIM: Distant galaxy edition

Science & Exploration


The Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor, or ASIM for brief, is a first-of-its-kind complement of devices on the International Space Station. Dubbed the ‘space storm hunter’, ASIM measures electrical occasions in Earth’s higher environment with cameras, photometers and X- and gamma-ray detectors. 

Recently, ASIM unexpectedly detected a novel gamma-ray burst from outer house. This fortuitous statement was printed in Nature journal, lower than a yr after ASIM made a canopy story.  

It got here from outer house

Mounted exterior the Columbus module and designed to look downwards for electrical discharges born in stormy climate situations in Earth’s higher environment, ASIM not too long ago detected one other peculiar phenomenon: a burst of photon radiation coming from one other galaxy.The spurt turned out to be from an explosive flare from a magnetar situated 10 million light-years away in a distant galaxy. Magnetars are a particular kind of neutron star – the collapsed core of what was as soon as a supergiant star.

Illustration of a magnetar

Neutron stars spin very quick. The magnetic subject of magnetars, nonetheless, is believed to be so highly effective that it slows down the spin, tearing on the star’s crust and producing highly effective bursts of radiation, x-ray and gamma-rays particularly.Thanks to its design and efficiency, ASIM was capable of file this gamma-ray photon outburst at extraordinarily excessive speeds.The measurements revealed surprising, periodic “flickering” of the photon burst that may assist to make clear the physics of magnetars and the construction of neutron stars on the whole, one of many hottest matters in present analysis. The outcomes have been printed within the December situation of Nature journal.

Earth-bound and past

Artist’s impression of a terrestrial gamma-ray flash

Since its launch in 2018, ASIM has been retaining researchers busy. From its vantage level exterior the International Space Station, ASIM has offered tons of knowledge on ‘transient luminous events’ sporting names like blue jets and pink sprites happening above thunderstorms within the higher environment.Aside from being a little-understood phenomenon and a part of our world, these highly effective electrical prices can attain into the stratosphere and above and alter the chemical composition of the environment with implications for the atmospheric radiation steadiness. The findings might assist to make local weather fashions extra correct.Researchers are investigating the connection between terrestrial gamma-ray bursts, lightning and high-altitude electrical discharges throughout all seasons, throughout our world and at completely different instances of day and evening. Learn extra about ASIM’s mission on this useful infographic.This week ASIM was moved to a different spot exterior the Space Station to gracefully make place for an American know-how demonstration payload. The transfer was carried out by the Station’s robotic arm.

Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor emblem

From its new vantage level, simply subsequent to its present one, ASIM is pointing in a special course, barely extra in direction of the horizon as an alternative of straight down. This will assist researchers work out how a lot our environment influences the processes {of electrical} discharges. It’s like viewing a firework show from the aspect: one can benefit from the shapes greater than if one is slightly below the show.ASIM was constructed by Danish firm Terma, Danish Technical University, University of Bergen in Norway and the University of Valencia in Spain for the European Space Agency.

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