Fermi Space Telescope Spots Gamma Rays From The Sun's Solar Flares

First Posted: Jan 31, 2017 03:20 AM EST

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected gamma rays from the Sun's hidden solar flares or on the far side of it. This could help the solar scientists to explore more how charged particles are accelerated to nearly the speed of light towards the Sun during solar flares.

The findings were printed in the Astrophysical Journal on Jan. 31, 2017. They were presented at the American Physical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Nicola Omodei, a researcher at Stanford University in California, said that Fermi is seeing gamma rays from the side of the Sun. On the other hand, the emission is produced by streams of particles blasted out of solar flares on the far side of the Sun. She further said that these particles must travel some 300,000 miles within about 5 minutes of the eruption to produce this light.

gamma ray is also referred to as gamma radiation that comprises of photons. It penetrates electromagnetic radiation that arises from the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei. A gamma ray is generated by the hottest and most energetic objects in the universe like the supernova explosions, neutron stars and pulsars and areas around black holes. Its natural sources are lightning and terrestrial gamma flashes. The gamma ray is also generated in nuclear explosions and radioactive decay.

Meanwhile, Melissa Pesce-Rollins, a researcher at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Pisa, Italy, and a co-author of the study, said that observations by Fermi's LAT continue to have a significant impact on the solar physics community. On the other hand, the addition of STEREO observations provides extremely valuable information of how they mesh with the big picture of solar activity.

According to, the hidden flares happened on Oct. 11, 2013, Jan. 6, 2014 and Sep. 1, 2014. These events were linked with fast coronal mass ejections (CMEs), in which billion-tons of solar plasma were released into space. The team thinks that particles accelerated at the edge of the CMEs triggered the gamma ray emission. 

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