Stunning new Herschel Images of the Milky Way

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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.

5 Colour Herschel Image of part of our own galaxy

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.

Further information about Herschel can be found from ESA, the SPIRE instrument team, the UK’s STFC and the BBC.

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3 Responses to “Stunning new Herschel Images of the Milky Way”

  1. L A Odicean Says:

    It looks remarkably like smoke billowing from a very hot fire to me. But, in effect, you say it is cold matter compressing to form new stars. Are we sure the film isn’t simply running backwards?

    • Dave Says:

      There are certainly some physical similarities in the rules of turbulent fluids in both cases. The main driver for the condensation of these filamentary structures is gravity collapsing them. I guess in billowing smoke the main driver is buoyancy dispersing the structures so there may be some aspects of things running in reverse! Maybe someone who understands more about star formation and MHD than me can comment further…

  2. 2010 in review « The Herschel Space Observatory Says:

    […] Stunning new Herschel Images of the Milky Way October 20092 comments 4 […]

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