What are Gamma Rays?Matter-Antimatter Annihilation
Gamma rays are a form of light. All light travels in waves and is classified according to its wavelength, the distance between its waves. The universe produces a broad range of light, only a fraction of which is visible to our eyes. Other types of nonvisible light include x-rays, ultraviolet light, infrared radiation, and radio waves. Gamma rays are the most energetic.

Electro-magnetic spectrum Gamma rays occupy the short-wavelength end of the spectrum; they can have wavelengths smaller than the nucleus of an atom.

Visible light waves are one-thousandths the width of human hair--about a million times longer than gamma rays.

Radio waves, at the long-wavelength end of the spectrum, can be many meters long.

How Do We Detect Gamma Rays? Inverse Compton

Gamma rays travel to us across vast distances of the universe, only to be absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. Different wavelengths of light penetrate the Earth's atmosphere to different depths. Instruments aboard high-altitude balloons and satellites like the Compton Observatory provide our only view of the gamma-ray sky.

Electro-magnetic spectrum penetrating the

The Compton Observatory relies on detection processes developed in the world of high-energy particle physics. This technology makes the observatory one of the world's most sophisticated satellites. Synchrotron Radiation

Why Study Gamma Rays?

Gamma rays allow us to enrich our view of the universe beyond what we see in visible light. Along with other non-visible forms of light, gamma rays enable us to observe known objects in a new way, and they reveal phenomena never before seen. Observations of gamma rays test our understanding of the laws of nature that govern the most cataclysmic events in the universe.

Nuclear Decay

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Viewing The Violent Universe was created by
Joslyn Schoemer, Stephanie Leitner and Tom Chi.

Questions and comments may be sent to Joslyn Schoemer at jschoemer@challenger.org.