GLAST Science Operations Start!

What is GLAST doing now?

Please pardon the one-month hiatus of this blog.  It’s been an intensely busy month, and the early checkout phase is now complete.  The first year of science operations has started, and GLAST is surveying the gamma-ray sky!

Some highlights of the past month include:

  • completion of the checkout and initial calibrations of the instruments
  • detection by the LAT of two extraordinarily bright, flaring sources.  The LAT team circulated notices to the astronomy community (linked here and here.).  These sources are very likely supermassive black hole systems at the cores of active galaxies, far across the universe yet incredibly bright.  Given that these detections were made with just the engineering data observations, the future is full of promise, and we are very excited.
  • routine detection of gamma-ray bursts by the GBM.  See, for example, this story.  GBM public data releases should start later this month.
  • using information from radio telescopes, the LAT very quickly saw well-known gamma-ray pulsars, proving that the whole precision timing system works as expected end-to-end.

More details about some of these in upcoming posts.  In the meantime, you might enjoy looking at the slides from conference presentations by LAT collaborators Richard Dubois (from SLAC) (Richard’s talk is linked here, please scroll down to Richard’s talk, given on Friday at 10:55, and click “download”) and Isabelle Grenier (from CEA Saclay and University of Paris Diderot) (Isabelle’s talk is linked here).

What’s next?

At the end of August, there will be a formal release of the first-light images.  At that time, NASA will also rename the observatory.  Please check back regularly for updates.