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Integral is Europe's latest gamma ray observatory and continues the pioneering work begun in 1975 with ESA's Cos-B gamma ray satellite. Its acronym stands for the International Gamma ray Astrophysics Laboratory.

Gamma rays are a million times more energetic than visible light and can pass through matter with hardly any interaction. Integral uses two specially designed gamma ray telescopes to register these elusive rays. One provides the sharpest images of the gamma ray sky ever seen and the other measures the energies of the gamma rays with unprecedented accuracy.

These telescopes are complemented by two other instruments: an X-ray monitor and an optical camera. All four instruments work simultaneously and point at the same region of the sky. This is the first time scientists have been routinely able to take measurements concurrently and it will allow a clearer identification of the gamma ray sources.

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