Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 17:21 EDT
Herschels test view of M51
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Herschel's test view of M51

June 23, 2009
Three-colour far-infrared image of M51, the ‘whirlpool galaxy'.

Red, green and blue correspond to the 160-micron, 100-micron and 70-micron wavelength bands of the Herschel's Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer, PACS.

Glowing light from clouds of dust and gas around and between the stars is visible clearly. These clouds are a reservoir of raw material for ongoing star formation in this galaxy. Blue indicates regions of warm dust that is heated by young stars, while the colder dust shows up in red.