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Space Science

More First-Light Data From Herschel Space Telescope 21

Posted by kdawson
from the staring-at-gas dept.
davecl writes "First-light images and spectra have now been released for all three of the instruments on Herschel. (The first images came out a couple of weeks back.) The news is covered on the BBC, on the ESA website, on the Herschel mission blog, and elsewhere. The data all looks fantastic, and is especially impressive since the satellite was only launched about 7 weeks ago. I work on the SPIRE instrument and help maintain the blog; but even I am astounded by the amount of information in the SPIRE images."
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More First-Light Data From Herschel Space Telescope

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  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday July 10, 2009 @12:15PM (#28651801)
    More and better Earth and Space-based telescopes just keep on coming.
    Its appropriate since Galileo took this Dutch novelty exactly four centuries ago and asked "I wonder what I'll see if I look at the night sky?"

    I'm looking forward to when various systematic mapping projects put their results into Google Sky and related cloud servers for public access. If you check out the site nmannedspaceflight.com [unmannedspaceflight.com] you'll see how amatuers are poring over this kind of data to make important discoveries of near earth objects, internal shadows in Saturns rings, and the like which professionals may have overlooked.
  • Hershel vs. Hubble (Score:4, Informative)

    by moon3 (1530265) on Friday July 10, 2009 @12:24PM (#28651917)
    Saying that the blurry ESA's image is showing some unseen features is rather strange. It is an IR image, but still.. Hubble shows amazing detail on M74, and I mean amazing.

    Hubble:
    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap071201.html [nasa.gov]

    Hershel:
    http://www.esa.int/images/SPIRE250_M66_M74_fig1_H.jpg [esa.int]
    • by davecl (233127) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:10PM (#28652643)

      Hubble works in the optical at wavelengths more than 100 times smaller than those Herschel is using, so it's not surprising you can see more detail. However, the Herschel images aren't showing stars at all, they're showing cool dust, just 50 or so degrees above absolute zero, material that Hubble just cannot see at all (and to be fair, Herschel can't see the stars that Hubble can see).

      Trying to compare Hubble with Herschel is like comparing a fire with a bucket of liquid nitrogen.

      • by wisebabo (638845)

        Just a quick question. "Herschel can't see the stars that Hubble can see." Is a star DARKER than interstellar dust at these frequencies? Or is it just not bright enough to stand out? (Probably has something to do with black body radiation).

        • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Friday July 10, 2009 @04:34PM (#28655197) Homepage Journal

          Just a quick question. "Herschel can't see the stars that Hubble can see." Is a star DARKER than interstellar dust at these frequencies? Or is it just not bright enough to stand out? (Probably has something to do with black body radiation).

          The stars are behind the dust, and the dust basically acts like a color filter. So it's transparent at some frequencies and you can see the stars, and it's opaque at other frequencies and you can't see the stars (but can see the dust).

          • by wisebabo (638845)

            Oh, I didn't realize that it would filter out the frequencies it was itself radiating in but I guess that makes sense. Thanks! - Teddy

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Trying to compare Hubble with Herschel is like comparing a fire with a bucket of liquid nitrogen.

        Which is easy if you're like me and the only criterion for comparison you care about is: Does it feel good or bad on my junk?

        Easy-peasy. Fire on the junk: Bad. Liquid Nitrogen on the junk: Bad. Hubble Space Telescope on the junk: Bad. Hershel Space Telescope on the junk: ooh yeah!

        So sorry, I don't find your analogy very accurate.

      • by jmnugent (705421)
        This might be a dumb question, but since the instruments (Hubble and Hershel) gather 2 different types of information, are the respective scientific teams going to overlay Hubble/Hershel data and extrapolate the differences ? or would that not be worth doing ? (seems to me like it would be.. but again I dont know much about space observatories)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by True Grit (739797) *

          since the instruments (Hubble and Hershel) gather 2 different types of information, are the respective scientific teams going to overlay Hubble/Hershel data and extrapolate the differences?

          What a lot of people don't know is that many of those colorized images released by NASA for example, are in fact overlays using data from Hubble *and* other instruments providing data from the rest of the frequency spectrum outside of the optical band.

          In the press these images are just attributed to Hubble, because a lot

    • I RTFA, and it looks like they have compelling evidence of water and carbon in some very stunning places:
      http://www.esa.int/images/SPIRE_01_H.jpg
      --
      Scientists used Herschel&#226;&#8364;(TM)s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on 22 June to look for warm molecular gas heated by newborn massive stars in the DR21 star-forming region in Cygnus. HIFI provided excellent data in two different observing modes, returning information on the composition of the region with unprecedented accuracy a
  • I'm waiting for the heavy data.

  • The second first data is certainly nice, but I can't wait to see the third first data, that will certainly blow off the roof.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      The second first data is certainly nice

      And much nicer than the first second data!

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