This artist's conception shows a blazar -- the core of an active galaxy powered by a supermassive black hole. The VERITAS array has detected gamma rays from a blazar known as PKS 1441+25. Researchers found that the source of the gamma rays was within the relativistic jet but surprisingly far from the galaxy's black hole. The emitting region is about five light-years away. Courtesy of M. Weiss/CfA Astronomy 

Gamma Rays from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

After traveling for about half the age of the universe, a flood of powerful gamma rays from a distant galaxy slammed into Earth’s atmosphere in April 2015. The gamma rays met our atmosphere and formed a cascade of light that fell onto the waiting mirrors of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) in Arizona. The resulting data have given astronomers a unique look into that faraway galaxy and the black hole engine at its heart. What Are Gamma Rays? Gamma rays are photons of light with very…

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