In the past year, high-energy astrophysics has continued to fascinate the public through its exciting discoveries. While traditional press releases and press conferences are still the most effective vehicle to communicate results to the wide audiences, social media tools (such as Facebook and Twitter) are becoming increasingly important in promoting discoveries and reaching the so-called science literate segments of society.
High-energy astrophysics got a big boost — pardon the pun — with the successful launch of NuSTAR on June 13. The attention given to this exciting new mission naturally came with references to previous and current related ones, thus providing extra mentions for Chandra, XMM-Newton, Swift, etc. in the popular media. These already-active missions, however, produced their own newsworthy results during the last twelve months. Several of these results were given extra prominence by being featured at either televised or phone-in press conferences at NASA HQ and at the AAS meetings.
Some of the news-making high-energy results from the past year included the following: Fermi announced the highest-energy light ever detected during a solar flare, new insight into dark matter from dwarf galaxies, and the discovery of the youngest millisecond pulsar. Chandra made a big splash with the announcement of the discovery of the Phoenix Cluster this summer, as well as "El Gordo" at the January AAS meeting. Swift made news with the discovery the "cry" of a star being shredded by a distant black hole; and XMM-Newton detected the "heartbeat" of a newborn star that caught the press and public's attention.
Links to this small sample and other stories generated by high-energy missions can be found below.
June 11, 2012
"NASA's Fermi Detects the Highest-Energy Light From a Solar Flare"
April 2, 2012
"Fermi Observations of Dwarf Galaxies Provide New Insights on Dark Matter"
November 3, 2011
"NASA's Fermi Finds Youngest Millisecond Pulsar, 100 Pulsars To-Date"
August 2, 2012
"'Cry' of a Shredded Star Heralds a New Era for Testing Relativity"
June 28, 2012
"Hubble, Swift Detect First-Ever Changes in an Exoplanet Atmosphere"
November 30, 2011
"NASA's Swift Finds a Gamma-Ray Burst With a Dual Personality"
July 3, 2012
"X-raying the beating heart of a newborn star"
June 28, 2012
"Space Telescope Opens Its X-Ray Eyes"
August 15, 2012
"Phoenix Cluster Sets Record Pace at Forming Stars"
June 4, 2012
"Giant Black Hole Kicked Out of Home Galaxy"
January 10, 2012
"NASA's Chandra Finds Largest Galaxy Cluster in Early Universe"
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