GSFC: Multimessenger Links to Fermi Show How Luck Favors the Prepared

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GSFC: Multimessenger Links to Fermi Show How Luck Favors the Prepared

Post by bystander » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:19 pm

Multimessenger Links to Fermi Show How Luck Favors the Prepared
NASA | GSFC | Fermi | 2018 Nov 08
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Explore how more than a century of scientific progress with gravitational waves,
gamma rays and neutrinos has helped bring about the age of multimessenger
astronomy. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/SVS)

In 2017, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope played a pivotal role in two important breakthroughs occurring just five weeks apart. But what might seem like extraordinary good luck is really the product of research, analysis, preparation and development extending back more than a century.

On Aug. 17, 2017, Fermi detected the first light ever seen from a source of gravitational waves — ripples in space-time produced, in this event, by the merger of two superdense neutron stars. Just five weeks later, a single high-energy particle discovered by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) IceCube Neutrino Observatory was traced to a distant galaxy powered by a supermassive black hole thanks to a gamma-ray flare observed by Fermi. ...

The origins of these discoveries stretch back to cutting-edge research as long ago as 1887. That’s when physicists Albert Michelson and Edward Morley conducted an experiment to detect a substance, called the aether, which was postulated as a medium that permitted light waves to travel through space. As their experiment showed and many since have confirmed, the aether doesn’t exist. But the negative result proved to be one of the inspirations for Albert Einstein’s 1905 special theory of relativity. He generalized this into a full-fledged theory of gravity in 1915, one that predicted the existence of gravitational waves. ...
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