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A kinematic explanation for gamma-ray bursts

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Mathematics Colloquium

Gamma-ray bursts are flashes of light observed from all directions in space, lasting from milliseconds to a few minutes, which start as gamma rays then soften progressively to X-rays and ultimately to radio waves. They have been attributed to cataclysmic events. Colin Rourke and I propose, however, that many of them may be optical illusions, simply the result of our entry into the region illuminated by a continuously emitting object. At such an entry, the emitter appears infinitely blue-shifted and infinitely bright. We demonstrate the phenomenon in de Sitter space, where much can be calculated explicitly, and then extend the idea to more general space-times.

This talk is part of the Mathematics Colloquium series.

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