ESAs gamma-ray observatory Integral is making excellent progress, mapping the Galaxy at key gamma-ray wavelengths.
A portion of Integrals gamma-ray map of the galaxy. This false colour picture was taken by the spectrometer on board Integral (SPI) between December 2002 and March 2003. The yellow dots correspond to bright known gamma-rays sources, whilst blue areas indicate regions of low emission. Data similar to these, but in a higher energy range, have been used to study where aluminium and iron are produced in the Galaxy.
Credits: ESA/SPI team
It is now poised to give astronomers their truest picture yet of recent changes in the Milky Ways chemical composition. At the same time, it has confirmed an antimatter mystery at the centre of the Galaxy.
Since its formation from a cloud of hydrogen and helium gas, around 12 000 million years ago, the Milky Way has gradually been enriched with heavier chemical elements. This has allowed planets and, indeed, life on Earth to form.
Franco Bonacina | ESA
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