NASA Names New Constellations After Sci-Fi Stars, Report

Credit NASA

The constellations have been constructed in celebration of its Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope's 10th year of operations, the space agency said in a statement last week.

An global research group using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, including NASA, has named a constellation of gamma ray-emitting stars Godzilla, according to movie distributor Toho Co.

To be fair, these aren't star signs - they're constellations based on gamma rays which are a type of electromagnetic radiation emanating through space.

"Developing these unofficial constellations was a fun way to highlight a decade of Fermi's accomplishments", Julie McEnery, the Fermi project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said.

Fermi has mapped about 3,000 gamma-ray sources - 10 times the number known before its launch and comparable to the number of bright stars in the traditional constellations.

It helps that connecting the dots between the gamma ray signatures that Fermi picks up actually draws an appropriately constellation-blocky picture of the items they're named for.

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Gamma rays can come from black holes, neutron stars and other exotic cosmic objects in the universe, but this light is invisible to human eyes.

Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) scans the entire sky every three hours. The prominent reddish band is the plane of our own galaxy, the Milky Way; brighter colors indicate brighter gamma-ray sources. There are now 88 official constellations and the original set of constellations is recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Other pop-culture icons were also given their own gamma constellations including the U.S.S. Enterprise from "Star Trek" and TARDIS from "Doctor Who".

These unorthodox shapes-21 in total-represent famous landmarks from countries contributing to Fermi (Sweden's recovered warship Vasa, Washington, D.C.'s famed obelisk, Mount Fuji in Japan) and important scientific ideas or tools (Schrödinger's cat, Albert Einstein, radio telescope).

Going back to Godzilla's constellation, the artwork depicted the iconic monster from its original Japanese design and even included a flare of its atomic breath, or heat ray as NASA referred to it.

'In fact, these galaxies make up more than half the high-energy sources Fermi has cataloged in the sky to date.



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