UPDATE. The Swift X-Ray Telescope team has taken a look at the X-ray data, and has shown that there was a mistake made in yesterday’s analysis showing a possible gamma ray burst in the Andromeda Galaxy. Apparently, the analysis error gave the source (located in a globular cluster in the halo of the Andromeda galaxy) an X-ray brightness 300 times higher than what it should have been.
The Andromeda Galaxy is the next-nearest spiral galaxy. It is also known as M31. It is about 2.5 million light-years away.
So, as of now … no gamma ray burst in M31. Darn.
The story began late yesterday (May 27, 2014), when social media started to buzz about the possible detection of this very nearby gamma ray burst (GRB). If it had been a gamma ray burst, it would have been the closest one ever observed.
The Swift mission has spotted about 90 new gamma ray bursts per year since it launched in November 2004.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.