First data from GLAST!

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As interesting or almost as interesting (in my opinion) as the start-up of the LHC is the start-up of another high-energy particle detector, the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST).  Now that it has been in space long enough for NASA to be confident that it won’t blow up, they gave it a name: Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST).  It’s more of a high-energy particle detector than a telescope: it sees gamma rays (energetic photons) by letting them convert into electron-positron pairs in a nucleus’s electric field, and then observes the trails left by the electron and the positron from ionizations left on silicon wafers.  This is exactly how the central tracker in CMS will observe particles from LHC collisions.  (We expect to see a lot of gamma-ray to electron-positron pairs ourselves.)  The difference is that GLAST is in space and its gamma rays come from the center of our galaxy, blazars, and gamma ray bursts, rather than man-made collisions.

Here’s the map, and a link to a lot more information and another link to all the news stories.  This four-day exposure has the same sensitivity as 1 year with the previous (first) gamma-ray telescope, EGRET.

(Yes, it makes me jealous.)

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