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Home / Science / The moon is brighter than the sun in these NASA gamma-ray telescope views

The moon is brighter than the sun in these NASA gamma-ray telescope views



The sun is the brightest object in our sky – but it would not be so if we could see incredibly energetic gamma rays as well as visible light.

This is just the light that ] NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope is tailored to seeing. The instrument was launched in 2008 to help astrophysicists understand objects such as supermassive black holes, pulsars and cosmic rays.

Cosmic Rays are responsible for the eerie glow of the Moon in the field of view of the instrument . "Cosmic rays are primarily protons that are accelerated by some of the most energetic phenomena in the universe, such as the explosion of exploding stars and jets that occur when matter falls into black holes," said Mario Nicola Mazziotta, a researcher at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Italy Working with the Fermi Data said in a statement by NASA ] Unlike Earth, the Moon is not in a protective magnetic field that detracts most of the cosmic rays. A steady stream of these energetic particles strike the lunar surface and produce gamma rays, some of which bounce off the satellite.

This hail would be a serious problem for lunar researchers. Finding out how to protect humans from cosmic rays is one of the tasks that NASA must tackle as part of its Artemis program which will see astronauts land on the moon by 2024.

A series of images created with an ever-longer data set shows high-energy gamma rays reflected by the moon.

(Image credits: NASA / DOE / Fermi LAT Collaboration)

But without humans in the equation, all these collisions have a positive side: the gamma rays they produce mean Fermi is adjusting to a certain class. The moon is brighter to be as the sun.

How much gamma radiation is involved varies over the course of a 1

1-year solar cycle . But since the cosmic rays are not emitted by the sun like the visible light, there is no difference in the gamma image between the full moon and the new moon.

"At these energies, the moon would never pass" Francesco Loparco, also a researcher at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics working on the project, said in the same statement: "

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels @ space .com or follow her @meghanbartels . Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and on Facebook .


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