This artist's impression illustrates how a gamma-ray burst can flare dramatically over a short time period. Gamma-ray bursts can occur as often as several time a day but they last for no longer than a couple of minutes. There is no way to predict when or where they will next occur.
ESA missions such as XMM-Newton, INTEGRAL and Ulysses study these mysterious, powerful bursts.
Copyright: ESA 2002. Illustration by Medialab