The Universe is home to numerous exotic and beautiful phenomena, some of which can generate almost inconceivable amounts of energy. Supermassive black holes, merging neutron stars, streams of hot gas moving close to the speed of light ... these are but a few of the marvels that generate gamma-ray radiation, the most energetic form of radiation, billions of times more energetic than the type of light visible to our eyes. What is happening to produce this much energy? What happens to the surrounding environment near these phenomena? How will studying these energetic objects add to our understanding of the very nature of the Universe and how it behaves?
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, formerly GLAST, is opening this high-energy world to exploration and helping us answer these questions. With Fermi, astronomers at long last have a superior tool to study how black holes, notorious for pulling matter in, can accelerate jets of gas outward at fantastic speeds. Physicists are able to study subatomic particles at energies far greater than those seen in ground-based particle accelerators. And cosmologists are gaining valuable information about the birth and early evolution of the Universe.
For this unique endeavor, one that brings together the astrophysics and particle physics communities, NASA has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Energy and institutions in France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Sweden. General Dynamics was chosen to build the spacecraft. Fermi was launched June 11, 2008 at 12:05 pm EDT.
Starting on 2013 December 5, Fermi will implement a modified observing strategy. While continuing to conduct a full sky survey, regular pointed observations will also be incorporated that will significantly increase exposure times for regions around the Galactic center. This new observing strategy will be initially implemented for a period of one year. Information on the strategy and its benefits can be found here.
On April 27, a blast of light from a dying star in a distant galaxy became the focus of astronomers around the world. The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst and designated GRB 130427A, tops the charts as one of the brightest ever seen.
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The call for proposals to participate in the Fermi Cycle-7 Guest Investigator Program has been issued by NASA Headquarters as an amendment to the 2013 ROSES NRA. For additional details and instructions on how to propose please refer to the Proposals page of the FSSC web site and to the NRA itself which is hosted by the NSPIRES web facility. We strongly encourage prospective proposers to review these documents as there are several changes to the program relative to past mission cycles.