A Good First Look

I learned from Phil’s blog that (recently launched) Hershel’s official first image has been released:

herschel_first_image_m51

Herschel opened its ‘eyes’ on 14 June and the Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer obtained images of M51, ‘the whirlpool galaxy’ for a first test observation. Scientists obtained images in three colours which clearly demonstrate the superiority of Herschel, the largest infrared space telescope ever flown.

This image shows the famous ‘whirlpool galaxy’, first observed by Charles Messier in 1773, who provided the designation Messier 51 (M51). This spiral galaxy lies relatively nearby, about 35 million light-years away, in the constellation Canes Venatici. M51 was the first galaxy discovered to harbour a spiral structure. […]

More here.

This is a powerful new eye (viewing in Infra-red part of the spectrum) in the sky, and so no doubt we’re going to learn a great deal of exciting new things about our universe. Congratulations Herschel team!

-cvj

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