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Very-High-Energy Gamma Rays from a Distant Quasar: How Transparent Is the Universe?

Science  27 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5884, pp. 1752-1754
DOI: 10.1126/science.1157087

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Abstract

The atmospheric Cherenkov gamma-ray telescope MAGIC, designed for a low-energy threshold, has detected very-high-energy gamma rays from a giant flare of the distant Quasi-Stellar Radio Source (in short: radio quasar) 3C 279, at a distance of more than 5 billion light-years (a redshift of 0.536). No quasar has been observed previously in very-high-energy gamma radiation, and this is also the most distant object detected emitting gamma rays above 50 gigaelectron volts. Because high-energy gamma rays may be stopped by interacting with the diffuse background light in the universe, the observations by MAGIC imply a low amount for such light, consistent with that known from galaxy counts.

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