Herschel's daring test: A glimpse of things to come

Jun 19, 2009
Red, green and blue correspond to the 160-micron, 100-micron and 70-micron wavelength bands of the Herschel’s Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer, PACS. Glowing light from clouds of dust and gas around and between the stars is visible clearly. These clouds are a reservoir of raw material for ongoing star formation in this galaxy. Blue indicates regions of warm dust that is heated by young stars, while the colder dust shows up in red. Credit: ESA and the PACS Consortium

Herschel opened its 'eyes' on 14 June and the Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer obtained images of M51, 'the whirlpool galaxy' for a first test observation. Scientists obtained images in three colours from the observation, which clearly demonstrate the superiority of Herschel, the largest infrared space telescope ever flown.

This image shows the famous 'whirlpool galaxy', first observed by Charles Messier in 1773, who provided the designation Messier 51 (M51). This lies relatively nearby, about 35 million light-years away, in the constellation Canes Venatici. M51 was the first galaxy discovered to harbour a spiral structure.

The image is a composite of three observations taken at 70, 100 and 160 microns, taken by Herschel's Photoconductor Array Camera and (PACS) on 14 and 15 June, immediately after the satellite's cryocover was opened on 14 June.

Herschel, launched only a month ago, is still being commissioned and the first images from its instruments were planned to arrive only in a few weeks. But engineers and scientists were challenged to try to plan and execute daring test observations as part of a 'sneak preview' immediately after the cryocover was opened. The objective was to produce a very early image that gives a glimpse of things to come.

The obvious advantage of the larger size of the telescope is clearly reflected in the much higher resolution of the images: Herschel reveals structures that cannot be discerned in a Spitzer image of M51.

These images clearly demonstrate that the shorter the , the sharper the image — this is a very important message about the quality of Herschel's optics, since PACS observes at Herschel's shortest wavelengths.

Produced from the very first test observation, these images lead scientists to conclude that the optical performance of Herschel and its large telescope is so far meeting their high expectations.

Source: (news : web)

Explore further: Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

Related Stories

Hubble celebrates 15th anniversary

Apr 25, 2005

In the 15 years that the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has orbited Earth, it has taken three-quarters of a million photographs of the cosmos. Two new views have been released of Hubble's most well-known images: ...

Reaching the parts -- with Herschel and SPIRE

Apr 03, 2007

A UK-led instrument which will study a previously unexplored part of the Universe leaves the UK this week to be installed on the European Space Agency's Herschel spacecraft in Germany.

Holiday wishes from the Hubble Space Telescope

Nov 29, 2007

Messier 74, also called NGC 628, is a stunning example of a 'grand-design' spiral galaxy that is viewed by Earth observers nearly face-on. Its perfectly symmetrical spiral arms emanate from the central nucleus ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers see pebbles poised to make planets

1 hour ago

A team of astronomers led from St Andrews and Manchester universities today (6 July) announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a very young star. This is the first time these 'pebbles', thought ...

Small cosmic 'fish' points to big haul for SKA Pathfinder

2 hours ago

A wisp of cosmic radio waves, emitted before our solar system was born, shows that a new radio telescope will be able to detect galaxies other telescopes can't. The work, led by Dr James Allison of the Commonwealth ...

Gaia produces stellar density map of the Milky Way

2 hours ago

This image, based on housekeeping data from ESA's Gaia satellite, is no ordinary depiction of the heavens. While the image portrays the outline of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, and of its neighbouring Magellanic ...

Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

Jul 03, 2015

This NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope picture shows a galaxy named SBS 1415+437 (also called SDSS CGB 12067.1), located about 45 million light-years from Earth. SBS 1415+437 is a Wolf-Rayet ...

NASA image: Stellar sparklers that last

Jul 03, 2015

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
2 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2009
CONGRATULATIONS!

The color codes suggest a great deal of diversity in the material around and between the stars.

It may be an over-interpretation to say, "Blue indicates regions of warm dust that is heated by young stars."

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com

omatumr
2 / 5 (4) Jun 21, 2009
HETEROGENEOUS MATERIAL ALSO FORMED SOLAR SYSTEM

a.) Primordial He is linked with excess Xe-136 in stone meteorites:
See: "The enigma of helium and anomalous xenon," Icarus 41 (1980) 312-315 http://tinyurl.com/nu82de ; doi:10.1016/0019-1035(80)90014-7

b.) Nucleogenetic isotopic anomalies in Mo isotopes of iron meteorites: See: http://tinyurl.com/mwsevr

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.