This artist's illustration shows the European Space Agency's infrared Herschel Space Obsevatory set against a background image of the Vela C star-forming region. The space telescope launched in 2009 and ended its mission in 2013.
ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory captured asteroid Apophis in its field of view during the approach to Earth on January, 5-6, 2013. This image shows the asteroid in Herschel’s three PACS wavelengths: 70, 100 and 160 microns.
Temperature coded (in Kelvin) spherical shape model used for the thermal analysis of asteroid Apophis, based on data from the new Herschel observations. Note that this is a model. Image released Jan. 9, 2013.
This new view of the Cygnus-X star-formation region by Europe's Herschel space observatory highlights chaotic networks of dust and gas that point to sites of massive star formation.
An annotated picture of the region Cygnus-X, highlighting numerous dense sites of new star formation in the right-hand complex, and the swan-like structure in the left-hand portion of the scene. The image was taken by the European Space Agency's Herschel space telescope.
This artist's impression depicts the ESA Herschel space telescope against the Rosette molecular cloud.
Messier 16 is a diffuse emission nebula that contains the young open cluster NGC6611. The iconic 'Pillars of Creation' image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 is captured in near-infrared by the VLT, which penetrates straight through the obscuring gas and dust, rendering them almost invisible. The pillars are only a small portion of the extensive nebulous region imaged in far-infrared by ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, which shows cool dust and gas tendrils being carved away by the hot stars seen in the X-ray image from XMM-Newton. The wide-field optical image from the ESO MPG telescope puts the pillars into context against the full scale of the nebula, which is over 75 light-years across.
Combining almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum, this composite of the Herschel in far-infrared and XMM-Newton's X-ray images shows how the hot young stars detected by the X-ray observations are sculpting and interacting with the surrounding ultra-cool gas and dust, which, at only a few degrees above absolute zero, is the critical material for star formation itself. Both wavelengths would be blocked by Earth's atmosphere, so are critical to our understanding of the lifecycle of stars.
This new image shows the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy in infrared light as seen by the Herschel Space Observatory and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
An inside view of the heart of the Eagle Nebula, captured by the Herschel space telescope on Oct. 24, 2009.
This galactic bubble is known as RCW 120. It lies about 4300 light-years away and has been formed by a star at its center. The star is not visible at these infrared wavelengths but pushes on the surrounding dust and gas with nothing more than the power of its starlight.
Three-colour far-infrared image of M51, the 'whirlpool galaxy.' 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.
Herschel and Planck will be launched aboard an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from French Guiana. While Herschel trains its eye on the invisible infrared universe, Planck will focus on the remnant light of the Big Bang.
This composite image of star-forming gas clouds in the Milky Way was taken by the recently launched Herschel telescope, and released Oct. 2, 2009.
Left: optical image of the CB244 globule region showing background stars and the cold, dense globule material in the centre. Right: dust temperature and column density of the CB244 cold, dense material based on the Herschel emission maps. Object 1 is a young stellar object and object 2 is a prestellar core that is likely to form a star.
ESA's Herschel space telescope has discovered that previously unseen distant galaxies are responsible for a cosmic fog of infrared radiation. The galaxies are some of the faintest and furthest objects seen by Herschel, and open a new window on the birth of stars in the early universe. To date, it is the most sensitive image of the universe taken with Herschel.
Artist impression of the Herschel spacecraft, which will an unprecedented view of the cold universe, bridging the gap between what can be observed in the infrared from the ground and earlier space missions of this kind.
Thousands of galaxies crowd into this Herschel image of the distant universe. Each dot is an entire galaxy containing billions of stars. This image image was taken in a region of space called the Lockman hole, which allows a clear line of sight out into the distant Universe. This "hole" is located in the familiar northern constellation of Ursa Major, The Great Bear. Full story.
This image of the Andromeda Galaxy is a composite of an infrared photo from ESA's Herschel space telescope and the XMM-Newton’s X-ray telescope. The infrared frame shows rings of dust that trace gaseous reservoirs where new stars are forming and the X-ray image shows stars approaching the ends of their lives.
An artist's impression showing a galaxy with a molecular outflow. Herschel Space Observatory's detection of outflows powerful enough to strip galaxies of their molecular gas reservoir represents solid evidence in support of the merger-driven scenario for the formation of elliptical galaxies.
The Ariane 5 rocket to launch Europe's Herschel and Planck telescopes is seen awaiting its payload.
This new view of the Orion Nebula shows embryonic stars within extensive gas and dust clouds. Combining far-infrared observations from the Herschel Space Observatory and mid-infrared observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the image shows newly forming stars surrounded by remnant gas and dust in the form of discs and larger envelopes. Image released Feb. 29, 2012
ESA Herschel space observatory image of Andromeda (M31) using both PACS and SPIRE instruments to observe at infrared wavelengths of 70 mm (blue), 100 mm (green) and 160 mm and 250 mm combined (red). Image released Jan. 28, 2013.
Six hundred newly forming stars are crowded into intricate filaments of gas and dust that makes up this stellar nursery, seen for the first time by ESA’s Herschel space observatory.
Supernova remnant W44 is the focus of this new image created by combining data from ESA’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories. Image released Nov. 14, 2012.
Herschel’s infrared view of part of the Taurus Molecular Cloud, within which the bright, cold pre-stellar cloud L1544 can be seen at the lower left. It is surrounded by many other clouds of gas and dust of varying density. The Taurus Molecular Cloud is about 450 light-years from Earth and is the nearest large region of star formation. The image covers a field of view of approximately 1 x 2 arcminutes. Image released Oct. 9, 2012.
This infrared image shows the young star Fomalhaut and its surrounding dust disc it as seen with ESA's Herschel space observatory. Astronomers suspect Fomalhaut's debris disc stems from dust particles created by prolific comet collisions, with an average rate of 2,000 daily crashes between comets of 1 kilometer across.
Astronomers using the infrared Herschel Space Observatory have discovered that this suspected ring of gas at the center of our Milky Way is warped for reasons they cannot explain.
This image of Supernova 1987A, taken in the infrared by Herschel and Spitzer, shows some of the warm dust surrounding it.
Dense filaments of gas in the IC5146 interstellar cloud, in an infrared photo from ESA’s Herschel space observatory.
Astronomers have found some of the youngest stars ever seen using the Herschel space observatory. The new results come from the Herschel Orion Protostar Survey (HOPS), led by the University of Toledo. HOPS looked at the stellar nursery in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex in the constellation of Orion. A portion of the survey is shown here in two images of the same region around the nebula Messier 78 where 15 new protostars were found. Herschel detected the extremely young protostars — indicated in the image by the four circles — that were too cold to be picked up in previous scans of the area by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
On 14 May 14, 2009, the Herschel and Planck satellite pair lifted off on board an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.