Recent images from ESA's Herschel space observatory
The Orion A star-formation cloud seen by ESA’s Herschel space observatory. The Orion Nebula is located within the central bright region of this scene, where massive star formation is most intense. Cooler gas and dust is seen in red and yellow, with point-like sources the seeds of new stars.
The image is a composite of the wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red) and spans about 1.3 x 2.4 degrees. North is up and east is to the left.
Stunning new view from ESA’s Herschel space observatory of the iconic Horsehead Nebula in the context of its surroundings. The image is a composite of the wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red), and covers 4.5x1.5 degrees. The image is oriented with northeast towards the left of the image and southwest towards the right.
The Horsehead Nebula resides in the constellation Orion, about 1300 light-years away, and is part of the vast Orion Molecular Cloud complex. The Horsehead appears to rise above the surrounding gas and dust in the far right-hand side of this scene, and points towards the bright Flame Nebula. Intense radiation streaming away from newborn stars heats up the surrounding dust and gas, making it shine brightly to Herschel’s infrared-sensitive eyes (shown in pink and white in this image).
To the left, the panoramic view also covers two other prominent sites where massive stars are forming, NGC 2068 and NGC 2071.
Extensive networks of cool gas and dust weave throughout the scene in the form of red and yellow filaments, some of which may host newly forming low-mass stars.
Supernova remnant W44 is the focus of this new image created by combining data from ESA’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories. W44 is the vast purple sphere that dominates the left hand side of this image, and measures about 100 light-years across. XMM-Newton data reveal that the remnant is filled with X-ray emission from extremely hot gas.
Herschel’s three-colour infrared view comprises PACS 70 and 160 micron and SPIRE 250 micron images. X-ray data from XMM-Newton’s EPIC instrument for W44 only has been added in light and dark blue to represent high- (2–8 keV) and low-energy (1.2–2 keV) X-ray emission, respectively.
The field of view is about 1º across. North is towards the bottom left of the image; east is to the top right.
This three-colour image of the W3 giant molecular cloud combines Herschel bands at 70 μm (blue), 160 μm (green) and 250 μm (red). The image spans about 2 x 2 degrees. North is up and east is to the left.
W3 is an enormous stellar nursery about 6200 light-years away in the Perseus Arm, one of the Milky Way galaxy’s main spiral arms, that hosts both low- and high-mass star formation. In this image, the low-mass protostars are seen as tiny yellow dots embedded in cool red filaments, while the highest-mass stars – with greater than eight times the mass of our Sun – emit intense radiation, heating up the gas and dust around them and appearing here in blue. W3 Main and W3 (OH) contain the most recent high-mass star formation.
ESA Herschel space observatory image of Andromeda (M31) using both PACS and SPIRE instruments to observe at infrared wavelengths of 70 um (blue), 100 um (green) and 160 um and 250 um combined (red). The image spans approximately 1 x 3 degrees.
This image was featured as space science image of the week on 28 January 2013.
Composite colour image of the Herschel PACS 70, 100, 160 micron-wavelength images of Betelgeuse. North is to the top left, east is to the bottom left, and the image is about 25 arcminutes across.
The star (centre) is surrounded by a clumpy envelope of material in its immediate vicinity. A series of arcs 6–7 arcminutes to the left of the star is material ejected from Betelgeuse as it evolved into a red supergiant star, shaped by its bow shock interaction with the interstellar medium. A faint linear bar of dust is illuminated at a distance of 9 arcminutes and may represent a dusty filament connected to the local Galactic magnetic field or the edge of an interstellar cloud. If so, then Betelgeuse’s motion across the sky implies that the arcs will hit the wall in 5000 years time, with the star colliding with the wall 12 500 years later.
ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory captured asteroid Apophis in its field of view during the approach to Earth on 5/6 January 2013. This image shows the asteroid in Herschel’s three PACS wavelengths: 70, 100 and 160 microns, respectively.
Its closest pass, on 9 January 2013, brought it to 14.45 million km from Earth, 35–40 times that of the distance of the Moon. In 2029, it will approach even closer than the geostationary orbit of many satellites, which are positioned at an altitude of 36 000 km.
During the latest pass, Herschel collected important information about the physical properties of the asteroid, which will help astronomers make refined predictions for the future trajectory of the asteroid.
Read the full news story here
The Vela C region, part of the Vela complex, by ESA’s Herschel space observatory. The image demonstrates Herschel’s ability to trace both high- and low-mass star formation at a range of evolutionary stages, from cool filaments, pre-stellar cores and protostars to more evolved regions containing dust that has been gently heated by hot stars.
The image was mapped using Herschel instruments PACS and SPIRE at wavelengths of 70, 160, and 250 microns, corresponding to the blue, green and red channels, respectively. North is to the right and east is up.
The Carina Nebula, by ESA’s Herschel space observatory. The image shows the effects of massive star formation – powerful stellar winds and radiation have carved pillars and bubbles in dense clouds of gas and dust.
The image covers approximately 2.3 x 2.3 degrees of the Carina Nebula complex and was mapped using Herschel instruments PACS and SPIRE at wavelengths of 70, 160, and 250 microns, corresponding to the blue, green, and red channels, respectively. North is to the upper left and east is to the lower left.
This new view of the Cygnus-X star-formation region by Herschel highlights chaotic networks of dust and gas that point to sites of massive star formation.
The image combines data acquired with the PACS instrument at 70 micron (corresponding to the blue channel) and 160 micron (corresponding to the green channel) and with the SPIRE instrument at 250 micron (corresponding to the red channel). The observations were made on 24 May 2010 and 18 December 2010. North is to the lower-right and east to the upper-right.