Gamma-ray Rain From 3C 279

Gamma-raysMy Thoughts: An example of our insignificance in the universe; here is a short (1.10 mins) video that portrays a shower of gamma rays from a galaxy far, far away. The video was posted on a web site I often visit sponsored by NASA. Every day there is new image or video that reflects something about the cosmos and our observations of it. (Astronomy Picture of the Day or APOD)

Our daily concerns about politics and investments and economics are both real and imagined. However, in the context of the data that this video represents, and its source mega zillions of miles away, our concerns and worries are profoundly irrelevant.

The explanation from the NASA site reads as follows: 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 color 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 centered on 3C 279.

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