NASA Chooses Names For 21 New Constellations

Posted: Oct 21 2018, 10:00am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 21 2018, 10:04am CDT, in Latest Science News


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NASA Chooses Names for 21 New Constellations
Credit: NASA

Many of those new constellations are named after fictional characters like the Hulk and Godzilla.

NASA has selected names for 21 new unofficial constellations. The discovery of new constellations was made using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and most of these are named after characters from modern myths like the Hulk, Godzilla and the TARDIS from Doctor Who. The brand-new set of constellations has been created to celebrate10th year of Femi telescope’s operations.

“Developing these unofficial constellations was a fun way to highlight a decade of Fermi's accomplishments,” said Julie McEnery, the Fermi project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "One way or another, all of the gamma-ray constellations have a tie-in to Fermi science.”

Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) scans the entire sky every three hours. Since July 2008, it has observed thousands of sourcs of gamma-rays, the highest-energy form of light in the universe. Now, these gamma ray sources have been given names.

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. During ten years of observations, Fermi has named numerous scientific discoveries related to gamma rays and revolutionized our understanding of the phenomenon.

“By 2015, the number of different sources mapped by Fermi's LAT had expanded to about 3,000 – 10 times the number known before the mission,” said Elizabeth Ferrara, who led the constellation project. “For the first time ever, the number of known gamma-ray sources was comparable to the number of bright stars, so we thought a new set of constellations was a great way to illustrate the point.”

Constellations are basically shapes made by groups of stars. There are currently 88 official constellations and the original set of constellations is recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Most of the original constellations are attributed to ancient Greek. The new 21 gamma-ray constellations are not only based on modern fictional characters but also include famous landmarks such as Sweden's recovered warship, Vasa, the Washington Monument and Mount Fuji in Japan.

The sharper vision of Fermi is still detecting more gamma-ray bursts than any other mission and continues to build up a clearer picture of the gamma-ray sky.

“Fermi is still going strong, and we are now preparing a new all-sky LAT catalog,” said Jean Ballet, a Fermi team member at the French Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay. “This will add about 2,000 sources, many varying greatly in brightness, further enriching these constellations and enlivening the high-energy sky!”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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