No, this is not another Tom Petty post, though I am always up for that. It has nothing to do with Maine that I know of, and is only news to those who care about the big picture. The biggest picture.
This is about a real star, actually the death of a really old star, the oldest star ever seen. By seen, of course, I mean felt or sensed by a NASA satellite. This object, according to Harvard astrophysicist Edo Berger, is 13 billion light years away and was born moments, astronomically speaking, after the Big Bang. The Big Bang is estimated to have occurred 13.7 billion years ago, so this star's death throes, gamma waves--like the rings 'round a pebble thrown into a still pond--have traveled through the majority of the known universe until rolling over a Gemini observatory last week.
From the SpaceRef.com article, Berger said, "I have been chasing gamma-ray bursts for a decade, trying to find such a spectacular event. We now have the first direct proof that the young universe was teeming with exploding stars and newly-born black holes only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang."
Gamma-ray bursts are the universe's most luminous explosions. Most occur when massive stars run out of nuclear fuel. As their cores collapse into a black hole or neutron star, gas jets, driven by processes not fully understood, punch through the star and blast into space. There, they strike gas previously shed by the star and heat it, which generates short- lived afterglows in other wavelengths.
So last week we saw some ancient afterglow. That's getting to be all some of us can count on.
[H/T to Stan who clued me in to the obvious difference between light years and years. D'oh!]