On 3 September, Herschel aimed its telescope at a reservoir of cold gas in the constellation of the Southern Cross near the Galactic Plane. As the telescope scanned the sky, the spacecraft’s Spectral and Photometric Imaging REceiver, SPIRE, and Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer, PACS instruments snapped the pictures. The region is located about 60° from the Galactic Centre, thousands of light-years from Earth.
Reservoir of cold gas in the constellation of the Southern Cross
The five original infrared wavelengths have been colour-coded to allow scientists to differentiate extremely cold material (red) from the surrounding, slightly warmer stuff (blue).The images reveal structure in cold material in our Galaxy, as we have never seen it before, and even before a detailed analysis, scientists have gleaned information on the quantity of the material, its mass, temperature, composition and whether it is collapsing to form new stars.
The result is a view of an incredible network of filamentary structures, and features indicating a chain of near-simultaneous star-formation events, glittering like strings of pearls deep in our Galaxy.
Göran L. Pilbratt | EurekAlert!
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