Posted by Jamie Holder (University of Delaware)
All of the gamma-ray observations collected by the Fermi telescope are made immediately available at the Fermi Science Support Center. To analyze and interpret these data, guest investigators must be provided with software tools, and the training to use them. One of the best ways to accomplish this, particularly for scientists new to gamma-ray astronomy, is through direct interaction with members of the Fermi team and other scientific specialists. This provides the motivation for the Fermi Summer School, a series of schools for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, which has taken place annually since 2011.
Students and instructors at the 2012 Fermi School observing the solar transit of Venus (inset)
The school is organized by the Fermi team at NASA Goddard, in collaboration with the gamma-ray group at the University of Delaware, and hosted at the University's Virden Conference Center in the small seaside town of Lewes, Delaware. Students are typically post-doctoral researchers and graduate students, and applications are accepted from scientists working or studying at research institutions and universities around the world. Most participants come from Europe and the Americas, while others have travelled from as far afield as China, India, South Africa and Rwanda.
Students and instructors at the 2016 Fermi Summer School.
Instructors are drawn from leading researchers in the field, and are chosen to cover a wide breadth of topics in high-energy astrophysics. The program consists of both formal lectures and hands-on tutorials, allowing students to gain experience with the full suite of analysis tools. Each student is encouraged to complete an analysis of an interesting astrophysical gamma-ray source – past examples include pulsars, active galaxies, gamma-ray bursts and supernova remnants. The results often evolve into a publication, or part of a Ph.D. thesis. Hardware demonstrations also provide an introduction to the instrumentation used to study gamma-rays.
Lectures and hardware demonstrations at the Fermi School.
Over the past 7 years, around 200 students have attended the school, and some of our past alumni are now returning as instructors. This year's school focuses on the exciting new field of multimessenger astrophysics, which combines Fermi gamma-ray observations with the results from gravitational wave and astrophysical neutrino observatories.
Students at the school sample the Delaware Seashore and meet with some of the local wildlife.