Tuesday, December 23, 2014

High Energy Astronomy News

Two items of note:

  1. Scientific American has a nice article on why the threat to life on Earth from Gamma Ray Bursts, in particular from the dying start Eta Carinae, is not something you need to worry about. (I've discussed putative GRB-caused events here and here).
  2. NuSTAR, an orbitting hard X-ry telescope, has captured some cool images of hard X-ray emission from the Sun (not a target NuSTAR was expected to look at, being designed for the study of Active Galactic Nuclei millions to billions of light years from Earth).
The NuSTAR data, seen in green and blue, reveal solar high-energy emission (green shows energies between 2 and 3 kiloelectron volts, and blue shows energies between 3 and 5 kiloelectron volts). The high-energy X-rays come from gas heated to above 3 million degrees. The red channel represents ultraviolet light captured by SDO at wavelengths of 171 angstroms, and shows the presence of lower-temperature material in the solar atmosphere at 1 million degrees. [Image and caption from NASA/JPL]