NASA’s Fermi Space Telescope has studied the extreme events and objects the cosmos has to offer. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Conceptual Image Lab
The 11 June 2018 marks the ten-year anniversary of NASA’s Fermi Gama-ray Space Telescope observing the cosmos in an unusual light. Gamma-ray radiation is the highest energy form light exists in, and is unperceivable to the human eye. By observing gamma rays, astronomers can gain a better understanding of the most violent powerhouses in the universe, including black holes and neutron stars.
“Fermi’s first ten years have produced numerous scientific discoveries that have revolutionised our understanding of the gamma-ray universe,” says Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, United States.
The Fermi Space Telescope scans the sky every three hours, and its main instrument, the Large Area Telescope (LAT), has pinpointed over 5,000 individual gamma-ray sources. One of these sources is the explosion GRB 130427A, which is the most powerful gamma-ray burst ever detected.
The Italian-American pioneer in high-energy physics and Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi led the way in this field, and had this mission named after him. In 1949, Fermi suggested that cosmic rays, the particles travelling close to the speed at light, could be ...