ESA released new images form the Herschle telescope today. This shows a two degree square region of our galaxy at wavelengths and resolutions that have never before been achieved.
The images show intricate filamentary structures made from cold interstellar material. This matter feeds galactic star formation, and this image provides new insights into these highly turbulent processes. This is also the first image released from Herschel’s ‘parallel mode’ that allows it’s two imaging instruments, PACS and SPIRE, to work together. This observing mode is immensely powerful as it allows 5 colour images such as this to be produced which might otherwise have had to be pieced together from separate observations. It’s a critically important mode for many of Herschel’s large area surveys, including the HIGAL project which will observe the entire galactic plane with sensitivity and resolution matching the 2 degree by 2 degree image shown here.