Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
Our Erratic Universe
Monsters in the night are unstable and bear watching. Thank goodness for the ever-watchful Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, which scans the entire sky every few minutes, keeping an eye on supermassive black holes in the Universe, and smaller stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars in our own Milky Way. Fermi does this by monitoring the extremely energetic Gamma-Ray emission that these unusual objects emit as they swallow nearby matter that's unfortunate enough to fall onto them. The image above is a snapshot from a new Fermi movie showing the variable Gamma-Ray emission seen by Fermi from August 4 to October 30, 2008. As the movie shows, these objects flare and fade, and new objects suddenly appear, while others signal their presence with reassuring regularity like lighthouses on the shore of a far distant sea. And watch out for the Sun, emitting Gamma-Rays as it's bombarded by high speed pieces of atoms torn apart and accelerated by titanic explosions deep in the Milky Way.
Published: April 13, 2009
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:23:12 EDT