Saturday, November 6, 2010

ESA Herschel: Astronomers hit galactic pay dirt

This image shows the first area of sky viewed as part of the Herschel-ATLAS survey, with the Moon also depicted to provide a sense of scale. It is around 4 degrees across – 8 times the width of the Full Moon – and located in the constellation of Hydra.

ESA Herschel Mission

There are over 6000 galaxies present in this image, some seen as they were billions of years ago, and almost all so far away that they are seen by Herschel as a single point of light.

Also visible, as wispy structures draped across the image, are diffuse clouds of dust in our own Galaxy.

This image makes up around 1/30th of the total area which will be observed by Herschel-ATLAS, in which astronomers should eventually find around 250 000 galaxies. (Credit: ESA/SPIRE/Herschel-ATLAS/SJ Maddox )


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