Most people can spot a handful of constellations in the night sky: Orion, Ursa Major, Gemini, etc., but have you ever come across a constellation in the shape of Godzilla? Well, now you can… provided that you have an extremely powerful telescope.
NASA’s Fermi space telescope has taken all sorts of stunning deep space gamma-ray images over the past decade, and now the scientists over at the nation’s space program are having some fun in naming some of their newly-discovered findings. And since astronomers and rocket scientists are all nerds at heart, a number of these unofficial new constellations — none of which can be seen with the naked eye — are named for sci-fi icons. There’s the Hulk, the Starship Enterprise, the TARDIS, and the king of them all, Godzilla.
Image courtesy of NASA
Fittingly, the Godzilla constellation has a number of visible gamma-ray jets, which according to the eggheads at NASA bear a resemblance to the monster’s heat rays. The constellation is made up of several unique heavenly bodies, including a starburst galaxy, a gamma-ray pulsar, and several blazars — supermassive black holes that blast out energy jets in Earth’s direction, making them appear very bright to us.
The purpose of creating these constellations is to draw attention to the Fermi program, which has discovered a ton of gamma-ray sources since it’s been in service. “By 2015, the number of different sources mapped by Fermi’s LAT had expanded to about 3,000 — 10 times the number known before the mission,” Elizabeth Ferrara, the leader of the constellation project, said in a statement. “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.”
Clearly, this is a sign that Space Godzilla will soon return to Earth and destroy us all.