First Light Images!


The PACS instrument on Herschel has taken the observatory’s first images, of the galaxy M51, and they’ve just been released.

Here’s a three colour image at the PACS wavelengths (70, 100 and 160 microns):

PACS images of M51 in the far-IR

PACS images of M51 in the far-IR

You can find more imaformation and more images at the ESA Website.

The telescope and instrument have yet to be fully tuned, but these images are already spectacularly good. Herschel is going to be doing great science!

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5 Responses to “First Light Images!”

  1. Jonas Says:

    Nice picture but blurry, it doesn’t look very sharp to me considering that it is a new telescope

    Am i missing something ? I must be…

    What is its purpose ?

  2. Dave Says:

    Compared to Hubble, these images will be looking blurry as they’re at wavelengths more than 100 times longer, in the far-infrared rather than the optical. However, they show us things that Hubble can’t see – these are images not of stars but of cool dust that cannot be seen in the optical.

  3. Pasquale Says:


    The Spitzer Space Telescope observed the same galaxy at 160 micron. You can see how much we gained in resolution by comparing the two images. You can find the two images at the URL:

  4. Populär Astronomi - » Rymdteleskopet Herschels första bild Says:

    […] bra hittills, och som bevis släpps en första preliminära bild på Malströmsgalaxen M51 (ESA, Herschel-bloggen). Herschel ser universum det infraröda ljuset från kyliga gasmoln och knappt uppvärmd rymdstoft. […]

  5. Dee Doe Says:

    WOW! That is beautiful! Congratulations to the Herschel team – I bet the champagne corks were popping when this picture came in – a fantastic achievement. Looking forward to the real work beginning 😀

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