Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the universe. Prof Soebur Razzaque from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) led a team of researchers modelling the behaviour of the first and second explosions in gamma-ray bursts.

Four out of seven bursts examined over a two-year period exploded with the same brightness as the sun's sunspot region. The data, which was published this week in the Nature, confirmed that same-brightness events weren't responsible for the rarer and clearer flares reflecting in a separate study from the same team.

The findings mean that gamma-ray bursts are caused by the same energetic transient physics associated with the hot solar eruptions known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

The most extreme and hugely energetic CME explosions, known as solar flares, are predicted to flourish under conditions of low magnetic fields, high brightness (surrounded by a yellow ring because radiation is absorbed), and are accompanied by a western track-like ion tail.

Traditionally, researchers had assumed that these extreme events occurred in the sun's corona, the layer from which the sun's inner solar system extends, but the new studies go a step further and show that the source of these events could be further out and at higher altitudes.

Those strong bursts of radiation would be searing hot and could be visible from billions of kilometres away. Of satellites and other space stations that pass by the sun, the bursts would be detected "within about an hour", says Prof Razzaque.

Gamma-ray bursts are thought to drive interstellar gas out into the interstellar medium so that its mass can be converted to serve as fuel for stars in the inner regions of the galaxy.

They reveal the extreme nature of these eruptions and a radiation environment more energetic than any other.

These results are enabled by the downlink technology from GeV radio astronomy satellite that allows researchers to monitor and analyse high levels of emission from high energy targets.

Prof Rouzbeh Khair Rahman, co-author from the UJ Mullard Space Science Laboratory, says: "Gamma-ray bursts in the outer solar system and in our galaxy have been heavily studied by other satellite experiments, but. We used unique data sets from the GeV radio-astronomy satellite to answer some important global questions about gamma-ray bursts and their characteristics.From 7 to 10 kilo electron volts were emitted at a low-frequency of 250 GHz, a large fraction of this bandwidth is largely uninhabited and unexplored. Knowing the characteristics of gamma-ray stations in the northern hemisphere are vital for generating the appropriate data for space-borne observations."

The peer-reviewed study is titled: "Understanding