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Press and the GRB Conference 2012

Announcement for this Conference (in Deutsch)

Next week, 7-11 May 2012, the combined Fermi/Swift GRB conference will take place in Munich, Germany, where about 180 scientists will gather to discuss recent advances in gamma-ray burst observations - both prompt emission and afterglow phenomena - and theory, thus covering all aspects of these extremely energetic explosions. On Thursday morning there will be the unique opportunity for media representatives to interview a number of distinguished researchers on their results presented at this conference.

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most energetic explosions in the Universe; they are probably the birth signatures of black holes. As various missions provide a wealth of new data on this still puzzling phenomenon, this conference brings together astrophysicists, neutrino physicists and gravitational wave scientists to discuss both the latest data and theories, to bridge the different fields and consider the whole wavelength range and multi-messenger aspects, and to develop GRBs as a powerful probe to study a variety of fundamental questions.

The Fermi mission provides an unprecedented spectral coverage over 7 decades in energy. The Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor (GBM) was built in close collaboration by the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, the Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, and industrial partners such as Jena-Optronik GmbH and Astrium. It was launched into Earth orbit on 11 June 2008 and has provided exceptional results. In recognition of the outstanding work of the Garching high-energy physicists, the main GRB conference this year is taking place in Munich next week, where a number of interesting and sometimes surprising results will be presented.

The Fermi GBM has discovered new spectral components in recent observations of Gamma-Ray Bursts, which challenge our standard picture of the prompt emission. Sylvain Guiriec from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Felix Ryde from the Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm will present the latest results on what this new data can tell us about the emission process of X- and gamma-rays from these exploding stars – providing first possible explanations for these puzzling observations.

The Swift mission can monitor and swiftly locate GRBs in multiple wavebands, providing the basis for all ground-based follow-up observations at basically all wavelengths. The results of these follow-up observations constitute the other major part of this conference. One particularly exciting event, GRB 120422, which happened just two weeks ago, is the spectroscopic discovery of a supernova following the gamma-ray burst detection. While this is theoretically predicted, only a handful of such coincidences have been observed over the last 15 years. A special discussion session on this hot new event is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

One of the eagerly awaited measurements comes from a new, but very small experiment, called GAP on the IKAROS satellite. This makes it possible to measure the polarization of the prompt gamma-radiation to an hitherto unprecedented accuracy, thus opening a new window on the analysis of the emission mechanisms of Gamma-Ray Bursts. These results will be presented by Daisuke Yonetoku from the Kanazawa University.

Besides the classical observations from optical to radio wavelengths, searches are underway for highly energetic TeV emission, neutrinos and gravitational waves. Markus Ahlers from the UW Madison will present the recent analysis of data from the IceCube neutrino detector at the South Pole and what constraints this can place on the properties of Gamma-Ray Bursts.

Invitation to a Press-Coffee

On Thursday morning, the organizers will bring together a selected number of researchers for a special press coffee. If you are interested in attending this event or if you would like to attend the conference as a whole, please contact Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle (details below).


Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
Press officer
MPI für extraterrestrische Physik
85748 Garching 
+49 (89) 30 000 3980
Dr. Arne Rau & Dr. Jochen Greiner 
GRB 2012 organisers
MPI für extraterrestrische Physik
85748 Garching

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Updated 4 August 2020
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