Moon glows brighter than sun in images from NASA's Fermi

If our eyes could see high-energy radiation called gamma rays, the Moon would appear brighter than the Sun! That's how NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has seen our neighbor in space for the past decade.

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Cosmic ray

Cosmic rays are energetic particles originating from outer space that impinge on Earth's atmosphere. Almost 90% of all the incoming cosmic ray particles are protons, almost 10% are helium nuclei (alpha particles), and slightly under 1% are heavier elements and electrons (beta minus particles). The term ray is a misnomer, as cosmic particles arrive individually, not in the form of a ray or beam of particles.

The variety of particle energies reflects the wide variety of sources. The origins of these particles range from energetic processes on the Sun all the way to as yet unknown events in the farthest reaches of the visible universe. Cosmic rays can have energies of over 1020 eV, far higher than the 1012 to 1013 eV that man-made particle accelerators can produce. (See Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays for a description of the detection of a single particle with an energy of about 50 J, the same as a well-hit tennis ball at 42 m/s [about 94 mph].) There has been interest in investigating cosmic rays of even greater energies.

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