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Gamma rays.

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The last part of the known spectrum is the gamma rays region. Gamma-rays have the smallest wavelengths and the most energy of any other wave in the electromagnetic spectrum. These waves are generated by radioactive atoms and in nuclear explosions. Gamma-rays can kill living cells, a fact which medicine uses to its advantage, using gamma-rays to kill cancerous cells Gamma-rays travel to us across vast distances of the universe, only to be absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. Different wavelengths of light penetrate the Earth's atmosphere to different depths. Instruments aboard high-altitude balloons and satellites provide our only view of the gamma-ray sky Gamma-rays are the most energetic form of light and are produced by the hottest regions of the universe. ...read more.


In the 1960s, we finally developed the ability to actually detect these emissions. This did not develop until it was possible to get our detectors above all or most of the atmosphere, using balloons or spacecraft. The first gamma-ray telescope, carried into orbit on the Explorer XI satellite in 1961, picked up fewer than 100 cosmic gamma-ray photons! If you could see gamma-rays, the night sky would look strange and unfamiliar. The gamma-ray moon just looks like a round blob - lunar features are not visible. In high-energy gamma rays, the Moon is actually brighter than the quiet Sun. The familiar sights of constantly shining stars and galaxies would be replaced by something ever-changing. ...read more.


Today, these gamma-ray bursts, which happen at least once a day, are seen to last for fractions of a second to minutes, popping off like cosmic flashbulbs from unexpected directions, flickering, and then fading after briefly dominating the gamma-ray sky. Gamma-ray bursts can release more energy in 10 seconds than the Sun will emit in its entire 10 billion-year lifetime! So far, it appears that all of the bursts we have observed have come from outside the Milky Way Galaxy. Scientists believe that a gamma-ray burst will occur once every few million years here in the Milky Way. By solving the mystery of gamma-ray bursts, scientists hope to gain further knowledge of the origins of the Universe, the rate at which the Universe is expanding, and the size of the Universe. ...read more.

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