A long time ago in a galaxy half the universe away, a flood of high-energy gamma rays began its journey to Earth. When they arrived in April, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope caught the outburst, which helped two ground-based gamma-ray observatories detect some of the highest-energy light ever seen from a galaxy so distant. The observations provide a surprising look into the environment near a supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center and offer a glimpse into the state of the cosmos 7 billion years ago. —
Fermi has detected for the first time a Gamma-ray Pulsar in another galaxy.
The pulsar is 163,000 light-years away in a part of the Large Magellanic Cloud called the Tarantula nebula.
This is so amazing! At a distance of 4 billion light-years, the Hubble is needed to produce an image this good.
The story is more than a little complicated too. Take a look at this video, it goes a long way in helping to explain things especially how gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens can be made.
The story from Fermi:
An international team of astronomers, using NASA’s Fermi observatory, has made the first-ever gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens, a kind of natural telescope formed when a rare cosmic alignment allows the gravity of a massive object to bend and amplify light from a more distant source.
This accomplishment opens new avenues for research, including a novel way to probe emission regions near supermassive black holes. It may even be possible to find other gravitational lenses with data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
“We began thinking about the possibility of making this observation a couple of years after Fermi launched, and all of the pieces finally came together in late 2012,” said Teddy Cheung, lead scientist for the finding and an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.
On April 27th the brightest gamma ray burst ever recorded occured. It was so intense it was described as “shockingly, eye-wateringly bright” by Julie McEnery, project scientist for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The energy level of the burst was at least 94 billion electron volts and some three times greater than the previous record.
The burst occurred in the constellation Leo and was about 3.6 billion light-years away. As far away as that is, it is still rather close for such an event, in the closest five percent category.
It is suspected this was from a massive star collapsing into and becoming a black hole and ejecting material outward at close to the speed of light. The event should produce a supernova which will become evident shortly.
Read more about the burst and see some nice animations in the NASA press release.