THE COMMON OBSERVER UNCOMMON OBSERVATIONS

Fisheye Gamma Ray Photo

 

A neat image came up on the fantastic Astronomy Picture of the Day that caught my eye. Here is a picture of the Milky Way as seen from Earth orbit… in gamma ray light! The image from the Fermi Space Telescope is of course in false-color, but is nonetheless striking!

 

What is so fun about this image is that it contains both the Milky Way AND the Earth! The ring around the edge of the “photo” is actually our planet, glowing in gamma-ray wavelengths. In effect what we’re seeing is a kind of wide-angle (or fisheye) effect. Here is perhaps a more familiar (and extreme) example of this wide-angle effect, in visible light and with a more worldly setting…

 

 

Besides study the fascinating physics that goes in to producing gamma rays throughout the Milky Way’s disk (and well beyond!) this image is a brilliant visual reminder to me that our home, Earth, truly belongs to the cosmos. Rock on, NASA.

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