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.
On Thursday, April 24th, Fermi returned to a survey mode that provides more uniform coverage over the entire sky. This observing mode, the same one that has been in place for the majority of the mission, allows the observatory to improve exposure during the period surrounding the periastron passage of the pulsar B1259-63. For information about Fermi observations of the previous periastron event, click here.
The Fermi Science Support Center and the GBM team are pleased to announce the availability of new data products related to the localization of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs). In addition to the positions on the sky and their 68% confidence level statistical errors, communicated via notices from the GRB Coordinates Network (GCN), probability maps incorporating the total error on the final, best localization will be delivered. These products a may be available as soon as 30 minutes following the GRB trigger. A description of the data products is given in the README file in these quicklook directories, e.g., README.
A new study of gamma-ray light from the center of our galaxy makes the strongest case to date that some of this emission may arise from dark matter, an unknown substance making up most of the material universe. Using publicly available data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, independent scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Chicago have developed new maps showing that the galactic center produces more high-energy gamma rays than can be explained by known sources and that this excess emission is consistent with some forms of dark matter.
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