NASA names new constellations after Godzilla, Einstein

Last Updated 19 October 2018, 08:30 IST

In honour of the 10th year of the Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope's operation, American space agency NASA has come up with over a dozen new unofficial constellations.

Fermi's Gamma-ray telescope, launched in June 2008, scours the universe for gamma rays, a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, exerted only by the most energetic objects. Unlike visible light, which is what human eyes perceive, gamma rays and all the other members of the spectrum are invisible to us.

However, special instruments are used to locate, detect and study these normally invisible rays, which comprise of X-rays, Infrared, radio waves, ultraviolet and microwaves among visible light and gamma rays. The spectrum goes from the least energetic (microwaves) to most energetic (gamma rays) by differentiating them using wavelengths and frequency.

Named after the architect of the nuclear age, Enrico Fermi, the Large Area Telescope has been scanning the entire sky, mapping and measuring sources of gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the universe. The emission may come from pulsars, nova outbursts, the debris of supernova explosions and giant gamma-ray bubbles located in our own galaxy, or supermassive black holes and gamma-ray bursts - the most powerful explosions in the cosmos - in others, according to NASA.

As the telescope has passed its 10th year of operations, NASA named 21 new constellations (though unofficial ones) to commemorate the occasion. The constellations are named after some of the most historically significant locations, landmarks, people or objects and pop culture references, including Albert Einstein, the TARDIS from "Doctor Who", The Hulk from Marvel Comics, Godzilla, the Obelisk, the Saturn V rocket and the USS Enterprise from "Star Trek" among others. The constellations were also given an interactive map.

Officially, only 88 Constellations are recognised by the International Astronomical Union.

In a press release for the occasion, NASA Fermi project scientist Julie McEnery said that all the constellations have a connection to Fermi science in one way or another.

(Published 19 October 2018, 08:20 IST)

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