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In 1987 a supernova (designated SN1987A by astronomers) was observed in a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud.

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This was the first "nearby" supernova in the last 3 centuries, and for the first time astronomers not only observed the light show, but also detected 19 of the elusive neutrinos ( the detectors observed electron anti-neutrinos, to be more precise) produced by the collapse of the star's core. The burst of neutrinos preceded the first sighting of the supernova's light by about three hours, in agreement with the expectations of current supernova theory. These observations are rather conclusive evidence for the correctness of the core collapse mechanism, since it would be difficult to produce the observed neutrino burst by any other means.

It is estimated that for an instant in 1987 on earth the neutrino luminosity of SN1987A was as large as the visible-light luminosity of the entire universe.

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff(GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)

NASA Technical Rep: Sherri Calvo_____________Specific rights apply

A service of:LHEA at NASA/GSFC


June 16, 2006

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