It was written in our childhood science books that the sun is the brightest star of our solar system. But recent NASA images, captured by a telescope which can detect high-energy radiation, showed that earth's only natural satellite, the moon has outshined the yellow dwarf star of the solar system.
The images were captured by NASA's Fermi space telescope, which allows the astronomers to see high-energy radiation called gamma rays which also make the moon appear to have a glow because of its gamma-ray emissions.
But in this case, it is not the gamma-ray, but another type of space radiation called cosmic rays which attracted scientists.
Mario Nicola Mazziotta, a researcher at Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics who studies the rays using NASA imagery, said these rays are mostly protons accelerated by some of the most energetic phenomena in the universe, such as the blast waves of exploding stars and jets produced when matter falls into a black hole.
As per the scientists, when these cosmic rays hit the lunar surface, they produce gamma-ray emissions and from the telescope's perspective, the moon becomes a nifty detector for cosmic ray particles.
Since the moon lacks the magnetic field, these cosmic rays can reach the lunar surface without getting pushed away, while the powerful magnetic field of the sun blocks many cosmic rays, except those with high energy and creates fewer gamma-ray emissions to sparkle in the telescope photos.
At this point in time, when NASA is looking forward to a manned lunar mission, it is very important for the scientists to study and research about space radiation.
However, these pictures revealed that over time moon also changes its brightness because of the sun's magnetic field cycles through different levels of intensity and it changes how many cosmic rays bounce back to the lunar surface.
After the revelation of the new NASA pictures, it became very important to think about the protection from the cosmic rays and the radiation in terms of the safety of astronomers who will be part of the manned moon mission.
When it comes to the manned moon mission, earlier NASA revealed that the collected data from LRO and MESSENGER spacecraft indicated that moon has a significantly large amount of water on its surface than previously thought and as per the scientists, this will definitely help the astronomers in future lunar mission.