We report a first observation of an ionospheric disturbance from a gamma-ray burst. The burst, GB830801, occurred at 22:14:18 UT on 1 August 1983 and was one of the strongest ever observed. The total fluence was 2 x 10–3 erg cm–2, most of which occurred in the first 4 s of the burst. Simultaneously, a change was observed in the amplitude of a very-low-frequency (VLF) radio signal from a transmitter in Rugby, England, monitored at Palmer Station, Antarctica, indicative of an ionospheric disturbance. Weaker disturbances were also recorded at the same receiving site on signals from VLF stations in Annapolis, Maryland and Lualualei, Hawaii. The times of the burst and the disturbances are coincident within the 10-s resolution of the VLF recording system. No similar disturbances were observed within 60 h around the time of the burst. In the future, a network of VLF burst monitors may provide measurements of the total ionizing energy fluence from a burst, as well as some limited directional information.
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Fishman, G., Inan, U. Observation of an ionospheric disturbance caused by a gamma-ray burst. Nature 331, 418–420 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1038/331418a0
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