The HIFI instrument, the high resolution spectrometer on Herschel, had a bad start, with a serious technical fault early in the mission. The fault was diagnosed and fixed and I’ve just seen some astounding spectra from it. The reason why high resolution is so important is that it can reveal the velocity of gas flows in, for example, forming stars and can determine the molecules that make up gas clouds etc. in interstellar space.
The spectra just shown – merely a taster of what is to come – show unexpected velocity structures and the discovery of new molecular species. HIFI is back and, despite the fact that it doesn’t do my kind of science, it’s clear it will be doing some spectacular things!
Tags: ESLAB 2010