Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2015 July 22
Explanation: If gamma-rays were raindrops a flare from a supermassive black hole might look like this. Not so gently falling on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope from June 14 to June 16 the gamma-ray photons, with energies up to 50 billion electron volts, originated in active galaxy 3C 279 some 5 billion light-years away. Each gamma-ray "drop" is an expanding circle in the timelapse visualization, the colour and maximum size determined by the gamma-ray's measured energy. Starting with a background drizzle, the sudden downpour that then trails off is the intense, high energy flare. The creative and calming presentation of the historically bright flare covers a 5 degree wide region of the gamma-ray sky centred on 3C 279.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.