Gamma Ray Raindrops in a gorgeous animation

I love data visualization.  If I didn’t love astronomy and explosions so much, I would probably be in the art form of visualizing data in fascinating ways.  Who knows? I may change my life’s work some day.

A recent APOD takes the art to a new level.  By looking at time sensitive measurements of Gamma Rays from an incredible active galactic nucleus (AGN), we can get an idea of how a gamma ray burst comes at us from so far away, and what the difference is between the usual activity and a true burst of radiation.

Each circle represents a single detection of a gamma ray from the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope, with the size of the circle quantifying the energy in the ray.

A quasar is an AGN that is very bright and distant.  These objects are among the brightest in the universe and are the result of interactions between a supermassive black hole in a galaxy’s centre, and the gas and dust that are rapidly falling into it.  The huge amounts of heat generated during the black hole’s feeding release high powered gamma rays across the universe.

A Blazar is a super powered quasar, one that is constantly blasting gamma rays across the universe and peppering the Earth from afar.  Crank the audio and full screen it in HD, it’s a beauty.

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