The European Space Agency's Herschel telescope has reached deep into a previously invisible stellar incubator 1,000 light years away, capturing this image of 700 new stars forming from space dust and gas. Taken with Hershel's Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and its Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE), the image covers an area 65 light years across that is so shrouded in cosmic dust that no previous infrared telescope could see inside.
The newly released image was actually taken on October 24 as part of an ongoing study of Gould's Belt, a huge ring of stars circling the night sky. The belt provides stars that make up many well-known constellations such as Orion and Scorpius, but this image of the constellation Aquila is considered particularly important to astronomers because it examines a region of space previously invisible where hundreds of stars are being birthed.
Researchers hope that studying the stardust will provide clues as to how stars and galaxies spawn from the life cycle of the cosmos. Herschel's far-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelength detectors allow it to see so deep into space that it can observe galaxies humming along when the universe was but half its current age, when star birth was enjoying a boom. Herschel also sports the largest mirror (3.5 meters diameter) of any telescope ever sent into orbit, allowing it to gather long-wavelength radiation from some of the deepest and coldest places in the universe and making it the largest telescope ever to image the cosmos.
In the image above one can see 700 prenatal stars that are still just condensing clusters of dust and gas, about 100 of which are protostars on the brink of bursting into nuclear fusion. The two bright areas are regions where the newly forming celestial bodies are causing hydrogen gas to shine.
The image is the first new release of the ESA's new Online Showcase of Herschel Images -- which went live today. It's a site worth bookmarking if the image above gets the cosmic geek in you excited. New hi-res images of Herschel's deep space photography projects will post there periodically.
All of our telescopes and sattelites are looking at things 60 MILLION LIGHTYEARS or more away. What good does it do to look at things so far away? Even if we had light speed travel it would take 60 MILLION years or more to get there. BTW: I'm using 60 million lightyears referring to the other article about signs of life found 63 million lightyears away on a superearth close to a dim star. This one says a HUNDRED million....
Lets focus a little closer to home for crying out loud. Use hubble to look at the moons of saturn or something, or maybe a galaxy a litle closer than a million years of light speed travel away. geez... No wonder nasa has problems with funding.... Yeah, maybe its interesting, but the government doesnt like to shell out money for just "interesting".
oh, wait, this one is a THOUSAND light years away. My bad. it would still take a THOUSAND years at light speed to get there. Still not useful.
If we find something faster than light speed travel, that could be cut down...60M light years could be across the street eventually.
They look at these things to find out what has happened to our planet/galaxy and to find out what will happen. It is a way of predicting what will occur in the future and to discover answers for events that happened in the past.
I'm pretty sure the article says the point is to discover how stars and galaxies are formed.
You are missing the fact that we can find systems similar to ours that are older and see what has occured in it.
it's just a step to the next phase of human life. at one time some caveman probaly got criticized for trying to find out what was on the other side of those mountains. someone else got scoffed at for trying to figure out what's beyond the ocean. learning about what's next is crucial to developing how to get there.
It is absolutely amazing to think about the technology we have today and the fact we can see things now that we never could before. It is hard to grasp just how large the universe really is.