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Herschel provides stunning video of galactic panorama

by • April 21, 2016 • No Comments

The European Space Agency has released a astonishing video created of data collected by the Herschel space observatory over the course of its short operational life. The video displays a detailed panorama of the Milky Way as seen of our point of view in the Orion Spur of the Perseus spiral arm.

Compared to other orbital observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope, Herschel’s working life may be considered excessively brief, spanning as it did only a few years between 2009 – 2013. On the other hand, in this short time, Herschel undertook vast cataloging campaigns in the sub-millimetre and far-infrared wavelengths, which allowed the telescope to reveal the hard disposition of star-forming materials such as cosmic dust.

The biggest of these undertakings was known as the Herschel Infrared Galactic Plane Survey. The newly-released video stands as a visual representation of the 900 hours (roughly 40 days) worth of observations which were sunk into this colossal effort.

The video was stitched together of 70 individual maps compiled by the Herschel undertaking team, with the entire panorama displaying around two percent of the sky, and roughly 40 percent of the Milky Way’s central plane. Due to the fact which the central plane plays host to the majority of the stars in our galaxy, it is readily observable to the naked eye as a bright band streaking across a clear night sky.

This composite image displays the nebula RCW 120, which has been hollowed out by the stellar winds of the young star residing inside the structure

To allow us to appreciate, and take on to know the hard nature of the scene unfolding in the video, the otherwise invisible infrared wavelengths observed by Herschel have been assigned visible colors.

Diffuse interstellar matter serves as the backdrop for denser filamentary structures and nebulae. The panorama is in addition riddled with the different types of stages of stellar evolution, of small in size regions of gas eager to ignite, to fully fledged stars, whose solar winds are working to sculpt the surrounding material.

The maps come deplete with a source catalog for every of the five wavelengths of light recorded by Herschel. It is hoped which the data set can aide researchers to carry out additional studies on stellar evolution and the distribution of stellar nurseries.

Scroll down to view the newly-released Herschel video, courtesy of ESA.

Source: ESA

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