On December 26, 2004 a magnitude 9.3
earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean off the
coast of Sumatra in Malaysia. It caused a powerful tsunami
which devastated coastal regions of many countries leaving
over 240,000 people either dead or missing. It was the
worst tsunami to affect this area since the explosion
of Krakatoa. The earthquake that produced it was so
strong that it exceeded by a factor of 10 the next most
powerful earthquake to occur in the past 25 years.
• Indonesian 9.3 Richter earthquake:
December 26, 2004 at 00 hours 58 minutes (Universal
It is then with some alarm that we learn that just
44.6 hours later gamma ray telescopes orbiting the Earth
picked up the arrival of the brightest gamma ray burst
• Gamma ray burst arrival:
December 27, 2004 at 21 hours 36 minutes (Universal
This gamma ray blast was 100 times more
intense than any burst that had been previously recorded,
equaling the brightness of the full Moon,
but radiating most of its energy at gamma ray wavelengths.
Gamma ray counts spiked to a maximum in 1.5 seconds
and then declined over a 5 minute period with 7.57 second
pulsations. The blast temporarily changed the shape
the Earth's ionosphere, distorting the transmission
of long-wavelength radio signals. See stories on Space.com,
It was determined that the burst originated from the
soft gamma ray repeater star, SGR 1806-20, a neutron
star 20 kilometers in diameter which rotates once every
7.5 seconds, matching the GRB pulsation period. SGR
1806-20 is located about 10 degrees northeast of the
Galactic center and about 45,000 light years from us,
or about twice as far away as the Galactic center. It
released more energy in a tenth of a second than the
Sun emits in 100,000 years. Other gamma
ray bursts have been detected whose explosions were
intrinsically more powerful than this one at the source
of the explosion, but since those explosions originated
in other galaxies tens of thousands of times more distant,
the bursts were not nearly as bright when they reached
our solar system. What makes the December
27th gamma ray burst unique is that it is the first
time that a burst this bright has been observed, one
that also happens to originate from within our own Galaxy.
Astronomers have theorized that gamma
ray bursts might travel in association with gravity
wave bursts. In the course of their flight
through space, gamma rays would be deflected by gravitational
fields and would be scattered by dust and cosmic ray
particles they encountered, so they would be expected
to travel slightly slower than their associated gravity
wave burst which would pass through space unimpeded.
After a 45,000 year light-speed journey, a gamma ray
burst arrival delay of 44.6 hours would not be unexpected.
It amounts to a delay of just one part in 9 million.
So if the gravity wave traveled at the
speed of light (c), the gamma ray burst would have averaged
a speed of 0.99999989 c, just 0.11 millionths
slower. There is also the possibility that at the beginning
of its journey the gravity wave may have had a superluminal
speed; see textbox below.
The 9.3 Richter earthquake was ten times
stronger than any other earthquake during the past 25
years, and was followed just 44.6 hours later on December
27th by a very intense gamma ray burst, which was 100
fold brighter than any other in the past 25 year history
of gamma ray observation. It seems difficult to pass
off the temporal proximity of these two Class I events
as being just a matter of coincidence.
A time period of 25 years compared to a time separation
of 44.6 hours amounts to a time ratio of about 5000:1.
For two such unique events to have such a close time
proximity is highly improbable if they are not somehow
related. But, as mentioned above, gravity waves would
very likely be associated with gamma ray bursts, and
they would be expected to precede them.
Many have inquired if there might be a connection
between these two events (e.g., see the Space.com article).
Not thinking of the gravity wave connection, astronomers
have been reluctant to admit there might be a connection
since they know of no mechanism by which gamma rays
by themselves could trigger earthquakes. They admit
that the December 27th gamma ray burst had slightly
affected the ionization state of the Earth's atmosphere,
but this by itself should not have caused earthquakes.
However, if a longitudinal gravity potential wave pulse
were to accompany a gamma ray burst, the mystery becomes
resolved. The connection between earthquakes and gamma
ray bursts now becomes plausible.
In his 1983
Ph.D. dissertation, Paul LaViolette
called attention to terrestrial dangers of Galactic
core explosions, pointing out that the arrival of the
cosmic ray superwave they produced would be signaled
by a high intensity gamma ray burst which would also
generate EMP effects (e.g., see Page 3).
He also noted that a strong gravity wave
might be expected to travel forward at the forefront
of this superwave and might be the first indication
of a superwave's arrival. He pointed out that such gravity
waves could induce substantial tidal forces on the Earth
during their passage which could induce earthquakes
and cause polar axis torquing effects. In
his book 'Earth Under Fire' (as well as in his dissertation),
he presents evidence showing that the superwave that
passed through the solar system around 14,200 years
ago had triggered supernova explosions as it swept through
the Galaxy. Among these were the Vela and Crab supernova
explosions whose explosion dates align with this superwave
event horizon. He points out that these explosions could
be explained if a gravity wave accompanied this superwave,
it could have produced tidal forces which could have
triggered unstable stars to explode as it passed through.
He wrote at a time when gamma ray bursts had just
begun to be discovered, and when no one was concerned
with them as potential terrestrial hazards. In recent
years scientific opinion has come around to adopt LaViolette's
concern, as can be seen in news articles discussing
the SGR 1806-20 gamma ray outburst, e.g., see Space.com
news story. They note that if this gamma ray burst had
been as close as 10 light years it would have completely
destroyed the ozone layer. By comparison, the Galactic
superwaves LaViolette has postulated to have been generated
as a result of an outburst of our Galaxy's core and
to have impacted the Solar system during the last ice
age would have impacted the solar system with a cosmic
ray electron volley having an energy intensity 100 times
greater than this hypothetical 10 light year distant
stellar gamma ray burst. .
If anything, the December 27, 2004 gamma ray burst
shows us that we do not live in a peaceful celestial
environment. And if the December 26th earthquake was
in fact part of this same celestial event, we see that
this stellar eruption has claimed many lives. For
this reason, it is important that we prepare for the
possibility of even stronger events in the future, the
arrival of superwaves issuing from the core of our Galaxy.
Like the December 26th earthquake and the December 27th
gamma ray burst, the next superwave will arrive unexpectedly.
It will take us by surprise.
It would have been possible to determine whether a
Galactic gravity wave had indeed immediately preceded
the December 26th earthquake by examining data from
gravity wave telescopes. Since seismic waves from the
Indonesian earthquake would have taken some time to
propagate through the Earth to these gravity wave antenna,
their signature could be distinguished from the gravity
wave coming from SGR 1806-20. However, the major gravity
wave telescopes were unfortunately not on line at that
time. LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravity Wave Observatory),
which consists of two correlated telescopes, one in
Washington state and one in Louisiana, each having a
four kilometer long laser interferometer beam path,
was in the process of being made operational and unfortunately
was not collecting data at that time. In response to
an email se sent to the staff of the TAMA gravity wave
antenna in Japan, Dr. Takahashi replied that their telescope
was unfortunately not operating during that week since
they were making modifications to the telescope at that
time. So at present the gravity wave hypothesis remains
neither confirmed nor disproven.
Note that almost two months passed before the December
27th gamma ray burst found its way into news media stories.
If unusually intense activity were to occur in the near
future as the beginning stages of a superwave arrival,
it is hoped that scientists will not keep this knowledge
to themselves but rather allow the global news media
to disseminate the story quickly to inform the world.
A Superluminal Gravity Wave?
Experiments carried out by Eugene Podkletnov show
that a shock front outburst produces a longitudinal
gravitational wave that travels forward with the burst.
He has found that this gravity wave pulse has a speed
in excess of 64 times the speed of light (personal communication).
Also Guy Obolensky has produced spark discharge electric
potential shock fronts and observed them to propagate
forward at speeds as high as 10 times the speed of light.
Observations suggest that the gravity wave from an expanding
stellar explosion will decrease its superluminal speed
and eventually approach the speed of light as the shock
front expands. But meanwhile, the gravity wave will
have obtained a headstart over the electromagnetic wave
radiation component traveling in its wake (light waves,
gamma rays, etc.). So one would expect that the gravity
wave from such an outburst (and its resultant earthquake
activity) would precede the gamma ray burst component.