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Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Phase: Operating

Launch Date: June 11, 2008

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Program(s):Physics of the Cosmos

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COBE All-Sky Map
The map shows the entire sky at energies greater than 1 GeV. Brighter colors indicate brighter gamma-ray sources.
Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

Launched in June 2008, Fermi, NASA's largest gamma-ray observatory, has opened a wide window on the universe. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light, and the gamma-ray sky is spectacularly different from the one we perceive with our own eyes. Fermi data has enabled scientists to answer persistent questions across a broad range of topics, including supermassive black-hole systems, pulsars, the origin of cosmic rays, and searches for signals of new physics.

NASA's Fermi (formerly Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST) is a powerful space observatory that has started to:

  • Explore the most extreme environments in the Universe, where nature harnesses energies far beyond anything possible on Earth.
  • Search for signs of new laws of physics and what composes the mysterious Dark Matter.
  • Explain how black holes accelerate immense jets of material to nearly light speed.
  • Help crack the mysteries of the stupendously powerful explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.
  • Answer long-standing questions across a broad range of topics, including solar flares, pulsars and the origin of cosmic rays.

NASA's Fermi mission is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S.

Science Highlights:

  • Generated an unprecedented view of the high energy gamma-ray sky.
  • Discovered the first pulsar (in CTA 1) that appears to emit radiation in the gamma ray bands only.
  • Determined that supernova remnants act as enormous accelerators for cosmic particles.
  • Found that active galactic nuclei are not responsible for most gamma-ray background radiation (actually responsible for less than 30%)

The 2011 Bruno Rossi Prize was awarded to Bill Atwood, Peter Michelson and the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope/LAT team for enabling, through the development of the Large Area Telescope, new insights into neutron stars, supernova remnants, cosmic rays, binary systems, active galactic nuclei and gamma-ray bursts.

Last updated: May 13, 2014.

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