Fermi’s Spriagraph

Fermi's Motion Produces a Study in SpirographThe Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope orbits the Earth every 95 minutes, it’s scans building up increasingly more complex views of the universe with every circuit. The image above was put together from eight frames from a movie showing over 4 years’ position and exposure data recorded by Fermi‘s Large Area Telescope (LAT) into a single snapshot. The pattern reflects the various motions of the spacecraft, including its orbit around Earth, the precession of its orbital plane, and the manner in which the LAT nods north and south on alternate orbits.

The LAT sweeps across the entire sky every three hours, capturing the highest-energy form of light—gamma rays—from sources across the universe. Those sources range from supermassive black holes billions of light-years away to objects in our own galaxy, such as X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, and pulsars.

Image Credit: NASA/DoE

The Constellation Godzilla

Godzilla isn’t one of the official 88 constellations. It’s a new, unofficial x-ray constellation. The NASA team responsible for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has devised a set of constellations constructed from sources in the gamma-ray sky. The new constellations include a few characters from modern myths. Among them are the Little Prince; the TARDIS from “Doctor Who;” Godzilla and his heat ray; the antimatter-powered U.S.S. Enterprise from “Star Trek: The Original Series;” and the Hulk, the product of a gamma-ray experiment gone awry.

To explore Fermi’s Gamma-ray Constellations, visit the interactive x-ray sky chart at https://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/constellations/.

Image Credit: NASA