Tag Archives: variability

Fermi's Spectacular Second Year

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Happy Launch Anniversary to Fermi!!
Only two short years ago we watched Fermi take a perfect ride into orbit.

It turns out that the only thing better than Fermi’s fantastic first year is its spectacular second year. The data from both instruments are now being analyzed by scientists around the world. The Large Area Telescope team released a first catalog, which was based on 11 months of observations and contains 1451 gamma-ray sources (this is 5x larger than previous catalogs at similar energies).  One of the great things about Fermi is that even though we have beenobserving for almost 2 years that is not the end of the story. Thegamma-ray sky changes every day. Because Fermi sees so much much of the sky for so much of the time, we not only see things we expect to be interesting, but also get to watch the unscripted reality show that is the gamma-ray universe. Here are some of the highlights from the past year.

  • the active galaxy 3C 454.3 briefly became the brightest persistent object ever seen in the gamma-ray sky in December — link
  • the microquasar Cygnus X-3 (a compact object and massive star binary system) flared and was definitively detected in gamma rays for the first time — link
  • the gamma-ray bursts burst (and gave us some insight into properties of space-time) — link

As Fermi continues to watch the sky, we will continue to catch gamma-rays sources doing amazing things. It has been a wonderful two years, and I am looking forward to the next one.