Gamma ray bursts are the brightest explosions we see in the Universe. The farthest known GRB occurred 12.2 billion light-years away in the constellation Carina. The explosion that created GRB 080916C contained the power of 9,000 supernovae. This very short movie shows Fermi Large Area Telescope observations of GRB 080916C. About 8 minutes of data are compressed into 6 seconds. The colored dots represent gamma rays of different energies. The blue dots represent lower-energy gamma rays; green, moderate energies; and red, the highest energies.
Video Credit: NASA / DOE / Fermi LAT Collaboration
The 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
In 2017, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope played a pivotal role in two important discoveries just five weeks apart. That wasn’t just extraordinary good luck. It was the product of research, analysis, preparation and development extending back more than a century.
Video Credit: NASA
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