The Fermi Gamma-Ray Mission: Transforming Our View of the High-Energy Universe

Revealing the Universe
Saturday, February 18, 2012: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 109 (VCC West Building)
Since its launch in 2008, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Mission, which is named in honor of Enrico Fermi, a pioneer in high-energy physics, has made major findings on the nature of the high-energy sky. Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) surveys the entire sky every 3 hours. The LAT has discovered more than 1,000 new sources of gamma-rays. These include detections of hundreds of active galaxies, providing fresh insight into how supermassive black holes can accelerate jets of particles moving close to the speed of light. Fermi has found scores of new gamma-ray–emitting pulsars, a huge leap on the six known before launch. Most remarkably, a significant fraction of these pulsars are shining only in gamma-rays and are undetectable at other wavebands. In 2010, Fermi made the American Physical Society’s top 10 physics-related news: the stunning discovery of two gigantic bubbles of gamma-ray emission emerging from the Milky Way Galaxy. More recently, Fermi has shattered the belief in the Crab Nebula as a high-energy gamma-ray standard candle, showing intense flares on time-scales of hours. The gamma-ray burst monitor is finding bursts of gamma-rays on all cosmic distance scales: brief intense gamma-ray flashes from thunderstorms on Earth, flares from our Sun, outbursts from magnetars in our galaxy, and gamma-ray bursts at cosmological distances. The gamma-ray sky is constantly changing. Speakers will discuss the implications of these observations and report on the latest exciting new results.
Saeqa Dil Vrtilek, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Julie McEnery, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
and Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Julie McEnery, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope Mission
David Smith, Observatoire de Bordeaux
Pulsars: A Multitude of Surprising High Energy Results
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