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 Aug. 26, 2020, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth for nearly half the present age of the universe. Lasting only about a second, it turned out to be one for the record books - the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen.
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There was a hardware failure at the Fermi GBM Science Operations Center and repairs are ongoing. In the meantime, the processing of the Fermi GBM data to FITS files is delayed. This includes CTTE, CTIME, CSPEC, POSHIST and location contour maps. When the repairs are completed, the backlog of data will be processed and posted to the Fermi Science Support Center. GBM Burst Alerts continue to be distributed through the GCN during this outage.
Congratulations to Dr. Patrizia Caraveo on her award of the 2021 "Enrico Fermi" Prize from the Italian Physical Society (SIF) for being a world leader for high energy emission from neutron stars and for her contribution to the identification of Geminga.
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