Astro News Briefs: December 16–22

"First Light" for Integral

December 18, 2002 | In Paris, France, today, researchers from the European Space Agency (ESA) unveiled the initial images from the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral), the agency's most powerful high-energy observatory. The spacecraft, launched in October, carries four X- and gamma-ray telescopes, as well as a 5-centimeter visual instrument. The spacecraft was aimed at some well-known high-energy sources for its "first light" views, such as the binary system Cygnus X-1, which astronomers believe is home to a black hole, and Cygnus X-3, another binary with a neutron star. Integral also happened to capture a gamma-ray burst from a galaxy 5 billion light-years away. The researchers note that they expect to detect such short-lived bursts about once a month, appearing at random in the instruments' fields of view.

For more details and images, see ESA's information page at:

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