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Welcome to the Gamma Ray Party, PeVatrons!

8 Apr 2021, 06:10 UTC
Welcome to the Gamma Ray Party, PeVatrons!
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IMAGE: Ultrahigh-energy diffuse gamma rays (yellow points) are distributed along the Milky Way galaxy. The background color contour shows the atomic hydrogen distribution in the galactic coordinates. The gray shaded area indicates what is outside of the field of view. CREDIT: HEASARC / LAMBDA / NASA / GFSC

One of the problems with the electromagnetic spectrum is at a certain point we just kind of stopped naming things. Photons, the particles that make up light, come in a lot of different energies that our eyes perceive as color, our skin perceives as heat, and our radios convert into music. Those photons we see with our eyes get grouped by color in the visible spectrum: r-o-y-g-b-i-v. Sunburns do a good job highlighting the UVA and UVB parts of the spectrum. Beyond that, medicine highlights the use of X-rays, and catastrophic nuclear events teach us about gamma rays. And really, anything higher energy than X-rays, we call those gamma rays, and there are a whole lot of energies beyond X-rays that we are all lumping together.

Gamma-ray light comes from a lot of different sources, none of which are beakers in labs that can produce Spider-Man. One of the most common sources ...

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