LUBBOCK, Texas— Texas Tech Assistant Professor, Michael Fausnaugh, was a part of a team of scientists that discovered the gamma-ray burst and its elements left behind.
Fausnaugh said March was the initial detection of the gamma-ray burst that was caught by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Once the gamma-ray burst was detected Fausnaugh was alerted. He said he was already managing NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
“We knew that the bursts landed in the test field,” Fausnaugh said.” “And so I think the alert went out on a Tuesday, and we knew immediately knew that Tess was going to get good data for it.”
The data Fausnaugh received with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope, allowed the team to mark it as a kilonova.
Fausnaugh described a kilonova as “the optical emission of these merging objects.”
The emission the team learned was tellurium and other elements that are hard to make came from the burst.
Fausnaugh said, “it was a really exciting sort of discovery. Like I said, gamma ray burst. This braided only happens once every ten years or so. And then the fact that we got it in tests and all these other telescopes makes it even more valuable. So we were really keen to get working on the data and see what we saw.”