Since it was deployed in 2008, the Fermi telescope has been scouring the cosmos for sources of gamma-rays. These high-powered rays are invisible to us but hurtle constantly across space. They shine out of exploding stars, strobe off of spinning pulsars and radiate from the edges of unfathomably powerful black holes at the centers of distant galaxies. (According to NASA, about half of the universe's known gamma-ray sources fit into that last category.)
Within seven years of the telescope's deployment, Fermi had already mapped about 3,000 previously unknown sources of gamma energy exploding across the sky — about 10 times the number of sources known prior to the mission, according to NASA.
Now cobbled into ersatz constellations, these gamma blasts take the form of world landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum), sci-fi spacecraft (like the starship Enterprise from "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who's" time-traveling TARDIS), and homages to icons of science like Einstein and the cardboard box that contains Erwin Schrödinger's living/dead cat. Perhaps the most elegant marriage of medium and message is the constellation of the Hulk, who owes his famous viridescent bod to a gamma-ray experiment gone wrong.
Originally published on Live Science.