Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The TARDIS Constellation

There are 21 new constellations of stars in the night sky. These new constellations have been given names such as the TARDIS, the Albert Einstein and the Black Widow Spider. But you will need a very powerful gamma-ray telescope to view these new constellations - or NASA's powerful new interactive map.

Since the beginning of human history people have stared up at the night sky and searched for patterns in the stars. In these patterns we imagine we see animals, mythical creatures and familiar objects such as crabs, bulls, centaurs and scales. By naming recognizable configurations of stars for the patterns they resemble we have invented a classification system for the heavens.

We call each of these patterns of stars a constellation. The International Astronomical Union recognizes 88 constellations. The IAU has yet to recognize NASA's 21 new gamma-ray constellations. However you can judge the new constellations for yourself on NASA's interactive map of Fermi's Gamma-ray Constellations.

Fermi’s Large Area Telescope has been searching the universe for gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the universe, since 2008. These gamma-ray emission emanate from such things as pulsars, nova outbursts or supermassive black holes. The number of gamma-ray sources that the telescope has identified so far is about equal to the number of bright stars. Therefore NASA has decided to classify these new gamma-ray sources with a new set of unofficial classifications of constellations.

Check-out NASA's interactive map to view the Starship Enterprise, Godzilla, Schrödinger’s Cat and all the other new unofficial constellations.

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