Posts Tagged ‘ESLAB 2010’

The other half of ESLAB

May 6, 2010

While there’s a lot of stuff going on in the talks at the ESLAB Herschel meeting – and you can follow brief notes from some of us under the #eslab2010 hastag on twitter – the talks are only half of the story. A typical scientific meeting these days also has a large number of ‘poster papers’ where results are displayed in hard copy rather than as a oral presentation.

There are a huge number of poster papers here at ESLAB, covering a huge range of science and with some very exciting results, and I don’t just say this because my own paper here is a poster.

We can’t cover the content of these papers in tweets, there are just too many, but most of them will be made available by ESA once the meeting is over. I’ll try to provide a link when the web pages are up. Please take a look at them, if only to see some really astounding images from Herchel.

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Herschel probes hidden star formation in The Antennae

May 5, 2010

The next talk here at ESLAB is about Herschel observations of one of my favourite local galaxies – the Antennae. This is a collision between two spiral galaxies which are merging. The collision has triggered a burst of star formation. Some of this can be seen in optical light, but most of it is obscured by dust and can only be seen in the far-IR. This is where Herschel comes in.

Optical image of The Antennae

We can’t release the Herschel image yet, but the optical image, above, shows the region where dust obscures the star formation – it’s the dark area on the middle where the optical can’t see anything. And yet this is where most of the energy generated by the star formation takes place.

Herschel breaks this region up into smaller distinct star forming clumps, one of which is forming stars faster than the others. Why is this? This is something for future work.

KINGFISH – Herschel looks at nearby galaxies

May 5, 2010

The KINGFISH project, essentially a Herschel equivalent of the Spitzer SINGS survey of nearby galaxies, is providing some wonderful images of local galaxies in the far-IR. Early data on two nearby galaxies shows that we can now get far-IR images that look almost as good as optical images.

Data on these objects is of sufficient quality to be able to test models of star formation in the nuclear regions of these objects through looking for dust temperature variations. No variations seen so some models are favoured.

They’re also looking at variations in dust temperature on larger scales to see if bulge dominated galaxies have cooler dust. A tentative trend for bulge or bar dominated galaxies to have cooler dust in their outer regions is found.

Deepest and Largest

May 4, 2010

This afternoon has been hopping from nearby to more distant galaxies. I’m more interested in the latter, so payed close attention to the talk on H-ATLAS, a project I’m working on which is the largest single survey being conducted with Herschel in terms of area. We’re also getting a talk now on the PEP survey which is producing the deepest images obtained with the PACS instrument, probing the origins of the cosmic infrared background.

Astoundingly deep and high quality images – hopefully some of these will be released on Thursday – compared to what has gone before.

Galactic Cold Cores with Herschel and Planck

May 4, 2010

Cold cores trace hidden regions of star formation and thus the earliest stages of this process. Planck (see also their mission blog) allows cold cores to be found and Herschel can then follow them up. Planck should be able to produce an unbiased catalog of >>1000 cold cores.

Not much can be said about the Planck results at the moment, but the Planck First Light Survey has produced some sources for followup. 3 fields observed, showing lots of detail of these enigmatic sources. Two are associated with ongoing star formation but one is quiescent. Dust temperatures as low as 10-13K are found.

Herschel Galactic Plane Survey

May 4, 2010

HIGAL survey showing fantastic new images of dust in the galactic plane – both in star formation regions and away from these in quiescent areas. Allows temperatures and masses to be measured, and shows the effects of star formation regions on dust far away from the action.

Some of these images should be available form the ESA OSHI archive soon after the meeting ends.

HIFI back and how!

May 4, 2010

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!