-The Compton Gamma Ray- Observatory. Presentation by Javier Dominguez & A.J. Austin. -Into The Breach-.
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Presentation by Javier Dominguez & A.J. Austin
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was one of NASAs’ “Big 3” space satellites. Used to study our galaxy, and other galaxies, using a Gamma Ray telescope. This telescope would read, and detect gamma rays in it’s field of view.
Compton was a Gamma Ray Telescope, which means it detected gamma ray emissions in the area it saw. This is a primary reason it was a space based telescope: Gamma Rays are blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere.
Gamma Ray astronomy is even more difficult due to the fact that Gamma Rays typically penetrate and pass through objects, rather than be reflected by them. As a result, Gamma Ray astronomy is fairly new.
The “CGRO” was the satellite that took this well known image. It is a Gamma Ray view of our very own galaxy. As seen in the image, the closer one looks at the center, the more intense the Rays become. Some scientists speculate this is because there exists a “supermassive” Black hole lying behind clouds of dust and gas.
You may also notice little random blips of Gamma Rays above the galaxy. Scientists call these blips “Gamma Ray Bursts”. While relatively unknown , the occur after a stars rather violent death.
A Gamma Ray Burst is when a large star, (many, many times the size of our little sun) die. Typically coming from Neutron they continue to emit deadly gamma radiation from their poles, even after death. The “CGRO” would eventually pick these up on telescope and give us some insight about them. The radiation is so potent, that if Earth were to be struck by a burst, it would-
-not only penetrate the atmosphere, but simultaneously burn it off, and leave us without that big blue sky we love.
After Compton’s run in space (which lasted close to nine years), it was safely pulled from orbit via gravity and simply burned up in the atmosphere over the ocean. Its legacy however will continue to be of great significance, giving us insight about the universes Gamma Ray producing objects, and the Cosmic Background Radiation among other important discoveries.