The Gamma Ray Sky
What if you could "see" gamma rays? If you could, the sky would seem to be
filled with a shimmering high-energy glow from the most exotic and mysterious objects in the
Universe. In the early 1990s NASA's orbiting Compton Observatory, produced this premier
vista of the entire sky in gamma rays - photons with more than 40 million times the energy
of visible light. The diffuse gamma-ray glow from the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy runs
horizontally through the false color image. The brightest spots in the galactic plane
(left of center) are pulsars - spinning magnetized neutron stars formed in the violent crucibles
of stellar explosions. Above and below the plane, quasars, believed to be powered by
supermassive black holes, produce gamma-ray beacons at the edges of the universe.
The nature of many of the fainter sources remains unknown.