GLAST provides first sky map – and gets a new name.
NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) was launched on 11 June and turned on its main telescope two weeks later. It was immediately blasted with gamma-rays from blazar 3C454.3 — visible in the lower left quadrant of the telescope's first map of the sky. "It's a good example of the kind of things that are in store for us," says project scientist Steven Ritz of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Blazars, supermassive black holes that emit tight jets of particles, are just one of the gamma-ray phenomena that GLAST will study as it scans the whole sky every three hours. Other objects clearly visible in the first map are the Geminga and Crab pulsars, above and below the plane of the galaxy at the far right of the image. The map is based on 95 hours of data: it would have taken the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, NASA's previous gamma-ray telescope, a year to amass as much data. At the same time as releasing the map, NASA renamed GLAST the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
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Hand, E. New window on the gamma-ray Universe. Nature 454, 1038 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/4541038b