November 30, 2015


Many objects in the Universe, like dying stars or active galactic nuclei, emit gamma rays. The Fermi telescope’s mission is to study this type of radiation, offering greater sensitivity to reveal previously unexplored regions of the Universe.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST)—formerly the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST)—is an international project initiated by NASA in partnership with French, German, Italian, Japanese and Swedish research laboratories. The telescope is designed to detect the extragalactic gamma-ray background (EGB) and gain new insights into the most energetic events in the Universe. Fermi was launched on 11 June 2008 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by a Delta II launch vehicle.

Gamma rays are generated by the most extreme phenomena in the cosmos, such as pulsars, i.e. exploding dying stars, and galaxies hosting supermassive black holes. With its Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) and new-generation Large Area Telescope (LAT), Fermi has already detected a thousand sources including galactic core jets, young pulsars and millisecond pulsars, gamma-ray binaries and supernova remnants.

This space mission is funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), with contributions from numerous laboratories. In France, the CENBG (Centre d’Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan), the LLR (Laboratoire Leprince-Ringuet at the Ecole Polytechnique), the LUPM (Laboratoire Univers et Particules in Montpellier) and the Astrophysics department at the French atomic energy and alternative energies commission (CEA/Sap) in Saclay are taking part in the mission, with support from CNES.