Herschel’s anniversary and Dawn’s destinations

As I mentioned when noting a previous wondrous image, ESA’s cool infrared Herschel observatory sent its first images back in October last year, just after its launch companion, the even cooler Planck observatory achieved first light. Both are twittering away – Planck and Herschel.

And ESA have released another stunning image as Herschel nears its first anniversary in orbit.

There’s also an ESA video to mark the anniversary

The BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, has been contemplating Herschel’s images.  He recommends the Online Showcase of Herschel Images.  Including this Hi-GAL image looking towards the inner galaxy in the Eagle constellation.

As the Spaceman says

By far the biggest survey on Herschel, however, is a project called Atlas. Unlike Hi-GAL its main focus is outside our Milky Way Galaxy.

It’s trying to assess how rates of star formation have changed through cosmic time, and hopefully explain why. To do this, it’s mapping galaxies. Huge numbers of them. In the image below, the dots are galaxies. There are 6,000 in there.

Some are quite close; others are billions of light-years away.

Our own galaxy is a pretty sedate place these days. It makes a new star or two every year, but look back three billion years into the past (ie look deeper into the Universe) and you’ll see galaxies that make stars a hundred times that rate.

And, I couldn’t resist this video.  It was noted in this Nasa press release about the Dawn mission to the giant asteroids, Ceres and Vesta.  Image Credit: NASA/HST

Narration by the one and only William Shatner.  Enjoy.