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Gamma Rays

Gamma Rays are amazing!

This section will try to explain gamma rays for you in the easiest way possible so that you can learn and be knowledgeable about this wonderful phenomenon.



Gamma rays occur all over the universe and can travel for vast distances.


Simply put, a gamma ray is energy that is electromagnetic. Well maybe that wasn’t simply put!  To explain further, gamma rays are high energy waves of light and energy that whizz through the universe causing what we know as GRB’s, which stands for Gamma Ray Bursts.


We know this because through study we can see and observe gamma ray bursts, where we then learn further what these rays are, why they happen in the universe and what we can learn from them.


So a gamma ray is radiation that is very high energy, so high energy that gamma ray busts when they happen are the brightest things to shine in the universe and can be detected on Earth from billions and billions of miles ways.

There are two different types of gamma ray bursts.

  1. Short Gamma Ray Bursts
  2. Long Gemma Ray Bursts


Short Gamma Ray Bursts

Short gamma ray bursts are very short indeed and last for around about a second. It is believed that short GRB’s occur when two neutron stars eventually collide with each other to form a black hole and in turn a short but very effective gamma ray burst.  


Long Gamma Ray Bursts

Long Gamma Ray Bursts last longer than short ones, and last for about a minute. It is believed that long GRB’s are the result of the supernova of a star. When the star collapses it causes a black hole, that in turn creates a gamma ray burst out into the universe.  


Gamma ray bursts are very dangerous and if they were to come anywhere near Earth, the energy would fry the Earth in an instant. A gamma ray burst could happen in our galaxy, however its not likely we will encounter one at close range. So we are safe. Or are we. You never know, because one could strike at any second!


Kids Fun Facts Corner

# 1. In 2008 scientists discovered a gamma ray burst light that lasted for 30 second.

# 2. Gamma radiation can be re created on Earth through nuclear fusion.

# 3. Gamma rays can produce energy that is over 1 million times more that the energy of the sun.  

# 4. Gamma ray bursts could occur anywhere in the universe at any time.


Q&A Corner

Q. What are gamma ray burst? 

Q. What types of gamma ray bursts are there? 

Q. What causes short gamma ray bursts? 

Q. What causes long gamma ray bursts? 

Q. When can gamma ray burst happen?

Download questions about gamma rays here: gamma rays (answers are on this page

For further reading and more info on gamma rays visit rays

  Key Vocabulary Universe. Phenomenon. Electromagnetic. Radiation. Stars. Energy. Light.


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