Image Tour: Gamma-ray Sky

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Tour points of interest across the sky as seen in gamma-rays rather than visible light.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University.

Image credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration 
Written by Leah Ramsay
Designed by Leah Hustak and Dani Player
Subject matter expertise from Dr. Roopesh Ojha, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

Editorial and design input from Yesenia Perez, Dr. Quyen Hart, Dr. Rutuparna Das(Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian), Dr. Varoujan Gorjian (JPL)

Music courtesy of Yesh Music (ASCAP)


Text, Gamma-ray Sky Image Tour.

Fast Facts, Field of view -- entire sky. Telescope -- NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Wavelength of light -- Gamma-ray.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope shows us a very different sky than we can see with our eyes.

Text, Gamma-rays are the highest-energy form of light. By detecting gamma-rays, Fermi allows us to see the most energetic events in the universe.

The plane of the Milky Way galaxy glows brightly across the center of the image. A blue oval shape with an orange light illuminating through the center. Orange dots light up areas over the entire oval.

Text, Many other bright points of light come from heated matter falling toward a supermassive black hole at the core of the galaxy, though some point sources are unidentified.

Tour Stops -- Supermassive Black Hole. At the heart of our Milky Way galaxy lies the supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A*. An area in the middle of the shape along the orange line zooms into focus.

Text, Heated Matter surrounding the black hole emits in various wavelengths, including the gamma-ray light detected by Fermi.

The galactic center is brighter in gamma-rays than expected.

Scientists are investigating potential causes of the brightness, including undiscovered rapidly spinning pulsars or the annihilation of dark matter particles.

Tour stop -- Fermi bubbles. A dotted line forming an egg shape is placed above and below the center, Text, Extending above and below the galactic center are gigantic, super-hot plumes of gas that have become known as the Fermi Bubbles.

The bubbles were a complete surprise when they were discovered in 2010.

Text, Research suggests that the bubbles resulted from a large amount of matter falling into the galaxy's central black hole, like a burp after a big meal.

Scientists think the black hole's last large meal was 6 million years ago.

Tour stop -- Supernova remnant. A bright round dot, labeled Vela Jr, sits in the line around the middle of the galaxy. Text, The supernova remnant nicknamed Vela Jr stands out due to its brightness and circular shape.

In the aftermath of a supernova explosion at the end of a star's life, high-velocity debris hits the interstellar medium, creating shock waves and super-heating gas.

The expanding shell of hot gas and other matter can shine brightly for thousands of years.

Tour stop -- TXS 0506+056. A bright orange dot on the lower right side of the oval. Text, The Fermi telescope monitors nearly 2,000 active galaxies, but this one stands out.

TXS 0506+056 is the first confirmed source of a high-energy neutrino.

Text, Neutrinos are mysterious, low-mass particles that have been a missing piece of the puzzle in physics.

This detection will guide future research into how neutrinos are produced.

The photo now shows the entire blue oval with the orange ring. Text, Fermi's view of the entire high-energy sky provides context for the most energetic and mysterious events in the universe.