Are gamma ray bursts visible to a naked eye?

27 November 2005

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Question

Is it possible to see a gamma ray burst in the sky? I saw something in the sky flash on and off one night.

Answer

The retina in the back of your eye is sensitive to a very narrow range of what is called the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum contains all of the different wavelengths of light. This includes microwaves, x-rays and gamma rays, but you can't see any of them. Therefore, what you saw wasn't a gamma ray burst.

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