In this space wallpaper of the Andromeda galaxy from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet. The image was released Jan. 28 2013. Andromeda, also known as M31, is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way at a distance of 2.5 million light-years, making it an ideal natural laboratory to study star formation and galaxy evolution. Sensitive to the far-infrared light from cool dust mixed in with gas, Herschel seeks out clouds of gas where stars are born. The new image reveals some of the very coldest dust in the galaxy – only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero – coloured red in this image. The image was released Jan. 28 2013.
(Image: © ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz)