The Christmas γ-ray burst of 25 December 2010 (GRB 101225A, first detected by the Swift orbiting observatory) was a very unusual event. It was long lasting without the typical decreasing trend, its X-ray afterglow faded rapidly and its spectrum was atypical. Two papers in this issue offer very different explanations for these puzzling properties. Sergio Campana's group favours a comet crashing onto a neutron star as the cause of the outburst. Christina Thöne's group prefers a more conventional supernova mechanism, in this case involving a merger between a helium star and a neutron star.
- A puzzling γ-ray burst (News & Views p47, doi: 10.1038/480047a)
- The unusual gamma–ray burst GRB 101225A explained as a minor body falling onto a neutron star (Letter p69, doi: 10.1038/nature10592)
- The unusual γ-ray burst GRB 101225A from a helium star⁄neutron star merger at redshift 0.33 (Letter p72, doi: 10.1038/nature10611)
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