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The Animated Gamma-ray Sky Revealed by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope


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Title The Animated Gamma-ray Sky Revealed by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
Author Isabelle Grenier
Publisher Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
Release Date 2009
Language English

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Subject Area Physics
Abstract The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has been observing the sky in gamma-rays since August 2008.  In addition to breakthrough capabilities in energy coverage (20 MeV-300 GeV) and angular resolution, the wide field of view of the Large Area Telescope enables observations of 20% of the sky at any instant, and of the whole sky every three hours. It has revealed a very animated sky with bright gamma-ray bursts flashing and vanishing in minutes, powerful active galactic nuclei flaring over hours and days, many pulsars twinkling in the Milky Way, and X-ray binaries shimmering along their orbit. Most of these variable sources had not been seen by the Fermi predecessor, EGRET, and the wealth of new data already brings important clues to the origin of the high-energy emission and particles powered by the compact objects. The telescope also brings crisp images of the bright gamma-ray emission produced by cosmic-ray interactions in the interstellar medium, thus allowing to measure the cosmic nuclei and electron spectra across the Galaxy, to weigh interstellar clouds, in particular in the dark-gas phase. The telescope sensitivity at high energy will soon provide useful constraints on dark-matter annihilations in a variety of environments. I will review the current results and future prospects of the Fermi mission.


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