NASA has shared images of the Moon shining brighter than the Sun. The Moon appeared to shine brighter in gamma rays as captured by the space agency’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Moon is seen in gamma rays with energies over 31 million electron volts, which is tens of millions of times that of visible light are not visible to naked eyes.
The latest series of images by NASA captured over a span of two to 128 months, show a notable glow centered at the position of the Moon in the sky, thanks to cosmic rays that constantly interact with the lunar surface to produce gamma rays. The places where there is a greater number of gamma rays, the glow is brighter.
“Each 5-by-5-degree image is centered on the Moon and shows gamma rays with energies above 31 million electron volts, or tens of millions of times that of visible light. At these energies, the Moon is actually brighter than the Sun,” NASA said in a press release.
Mario Nicola Mazziotta and Francesco Loparco of Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Bari observed that the Moon seen at such high energies would always look full and never go through its monthly cycle of phases. However, the brightness of gamma rays does change over time.
The study of high-energy gamma radiation on Moon is crucial given the astronauts, which will be a part of NASA’s first Artemis lunar mission will need protection from the cosmic rays. For those unaware, NASA’s Artemis lunar mission is aimed at taking astronauts back to the Moon by 2024, and further on to Mars in the distant future.