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.
The Fermi Science Support Center and the GBM Team are pleased to announce the availability of the second GBM catalog of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) in the HEASARC browse interface. The catalog will soon appear in the Astrophysical Journal (Supplement Series). This catalog is in two parts: a general description (A. von Kienlin et al., http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.5080) and a spectral analysis (D. Gruber et al., http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.5069). The general catalog includes 953 GRBs that triggered GBM between 2008-07-12 and 2012-07-11. The spectral catalog reports spectral analyses of 943 GRBs, including revised analyses of the GRBs in the first catalog, from 2008-07-12 to 2010-07-11. Data from these catalogs are now available at the HEASARC in searchable tables via the Browse interface.
Black widow spiders and their Australian cousins, known as redbacks, are notorious for their tainted love, expressed as an unsettling tendency to kill and devour their male partners. Astronomers have noted similar behavior among two rare breeds of binary system that contain rapidly spinning neutron stars, also known as pulsars.
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An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on Jan. 21 has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft. The blast, designated SN 2014J, occurred in the galaxy M82 and lies only about 12 million light-years away. This makes it the nearest optical supernova in two decades and potentially the closest type Ia supernova to occur during the life of currently operating space missions.
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