Washington: NASA has used certain characters from modern myths such as the “Hulk” and “Godzilla” to name its new set of 21 gamma-ray constellations constructed in celebration of its Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope’s 10th year of operations. Fermi has mapped about 3,000 gamma-ray sources —10 times the number known before its launch and comparable to the number of bright stars in the traditional constellations. “For the first time ever, the number of known gamma-ray sources was comparable to the number of bright stars, so we thought a new set of constellations was a great way to illustrate the point,”
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Elizabeth Ferrara who led the constellation project said in a statement. “Developing these unofficial constellations was a fun way to highlight a decade of Fermi’s accomplishments,” Julie McEnery, the Fermi project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said. Comic book fans who know the backstory of Hulk, the big, green, angry alter ego of Bruce Banner, whose experiments with gamma rays went terribly wrong, could easily appreciate NASA’s pick in naming one of its constellations. Gamma rays are the strongest form of light. They pack enough punch to convert into matter under the right circumstances, a transformation both Banner and the Hulk would certainly appreciate. NASA’s choice of Godzilla constellation is linked to its trademark weapon “heat ray,” a fiery jet. This bears at least a passing resemblance to gamma-ray jets associated with black holes and neutron stars.