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Latest Herschel Space Observatory Stories

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2010-05-11 08:40:00

ESA's Herschel infrared space telescope has made an unexpected discovery: a hole in space. The hole has provided astronomers with a surprising glimpse into the end of the star-forming process. Stars are born in dense clouds of dust and gas that can now be studied in unprecedented detail with Herschel. Although jets and winds of gas have been seen coming from young stars in the past, it has always been a mystery exactly how a star uses these to blow away its surroundings and emerge from its...

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2010-05-06 10:39:04

Herschel's HIFI instrument was especially designed to follow the water trail in the Universe over a wide range of scales, from the Solar System out to extragalactic sources. Early results, presented this week at the Herschel First Results Symposium, demonstrate how HIFI uses water to probe the physical and chemical conditions in different regions of the cosmos. Water is an extremely important molecule in the Universe, abundant in a large variety of cosmic environments "” from our own...

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2010-05-06 10:26:53

The discovery of a previously unresolved population of galaxies in the GOODS fields and the first measurements of properties of galaxies in the almost unexplored far-infrared domain are among the first exciting scientific results achieved by Herschel's PACS and SPIRE instruments. These findings confirm the extraordinary capabilities of ESA's new infrared space observatory to investigate the formation and evolution of galaxies. These are some of the many discoveries presented this week at the...

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2010-05-06 07:40:00

The first scientific results from ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory are revealing previously hidden details of star formation. New images show thousands of distant galaxies furiously building stars and beautiful star-forming clouds draped across the Milky Way. One picture even catches an "Ëœimpossible' star in the act of formation. Presented today during a major scientific symposium held at the European Space Agency (ESA), the results challenge old ideas of star birth, and...

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2010-04-12 10:55:00

Herschel's latest image reveals the formation of previously unseen large stars, each one up to ten times the mass of our Sun. These are the stars that will influence where and how the next generation of stars are formed. The image is a new release of "ËœOSHI', ESA's Online Showcase of Herschel Images. The Rosette Nebula resides some 5,000 light years from Earth and is associated with a larger cloud that contains enough dust and gas to make the equivalent of 10,000 Sun-like...

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2010-03-31 09:20:43

Two new infrared catalogues, containing more than 1.3 million celestial sources, are made public today. The AKARI All-Sky Catalogues, based on the first all-sky infrared survey in more than a quarter of a century, will provide important new data for a wide range of studies that cover topics ranging from the properties of nearby stars, to the formation of planetary systems, and the star formation history of the distant Universe. All-sky surveys are an essential tool for astronomers. The large...

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2010-03-17 08:40:00

Giant filaments of cold dust stretching through our Galaxy are revealed in a new image from ESA's Planck satellite. Analyzing these structures could help to determine the forces that shape our Galaxy and trigger star formation. Planck is principally designed to study the biggest mysteries of cosmology. How did the Universe form? How did the galaxies form? This new image extends the range of its investigations into the cold dust structures of our own Galaxy. The image shows the...

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2010-03-04 09:28:51

ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has revealed the chemical fingerprints of potential life-enabling organic molecules in the Orion Nebula, a nearby stellar nursery in our Milky Way galaxy. This detailed spectrum, obtained with the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) - one of Herschel's three innovative instruments - demonstrates the gold mine of information that Herschel-HIFI will provide on how organic molecules form in space. The spectrum, one of the first to be obtained with...

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2010-02-04 08:15:00

To map our home planet, Google Earth depends mostly on satellite imagery for land surfaces and sonar imagery for the sea floor. Maps of the Universe likewise depend on different kinds of detectors for different kinds of features. Maps of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), for example, depend on measuring minute differences in the temperature of the sky. When astrophysicist Julian Borrill came to Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) in 1997, his first...

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2010-01-19 10:20:00

ESA's Herschel observatory is back to full operation following the reactivation of its HiFi instrument. HiFi, having been offline for 160 days while engineers investigated an unexpected problem in the electronic system, is now perfectly placed to resume its study of forming stars and planets. HiFi, the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared, was built specifically to observe water in a variety of celestial objects. Its first observation, on 22 June 2009, showed that it was performing...