Sign up FAST! Login

Gigantic blazar producing brightest gamma rays ever seen by humans

Stashed in: Light, The Universe, Lasers!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

When I hear the word "blazar", I definitely think of 421... Markarian 421.  The supermassive black hole at the center of this galaxy is spewing out radiation galore while it consumes the gases from which the galaxy is made.

It spews so many colors that the human eye cannot see:

Markarian 421 was already in the known catalogue of blazars, being somewhat variable and having had something of a brightening, or flare, in 1996.

But the one that began late last week was unprecedented in the history of observations.

"I'm in shock and awe at how bright it is," said Julie McEnery, project scientist for the Fermi gamma-ray telescope.

"This thing is blowing us away," she told BBC News.

Fermi and a laundry list of the world's great observatories on the ground and in space were all watching because of a coordinated plan to study Markarian 421 across a number of "colours" of light from radio to gamma-ray.

You May Also Like: