From European Space Agency via Manu: ” View of the galactic center with Herschel”


From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

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From European Space Agency

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The center of the Milky Way. SIGHT OF GALACTIC CENTER HERSCHEL. Copyright ESA / NASA / JPL-Caltech / Hi-GAL.

Today’s image shows a peculiar formation of gas and dust in the center of the Milky Way, captured by cameras aboard the far infrared space observatory Herschel ESA . The almost continuous line of dense cold clumps of material form an infinity symbol, or eight inclined, several hundred light years in length. In the image, line turns on its own axis in a movement about top left to bottom right.

ESA/Herschel spacecraft active from 2009 to 2013

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Herschel observatory in the laboratory. Credit: ESA.

This figure’s endless loop, which is estimated to have 30 million solar masses, consists of dense gas and dust only 15 degrees above absolute zero. These materials, represented in yellow contrast with gas and less dense and hotter in the center of the Galaxy powder shown in blue within the loop. A cold gas around we see represented in reddish colors.

The ring and its surroundings are home to a number of regions of star formation and young stars that stand out in bright blue. This area is part of the Central Molecular Zone, a region in the center of the Milky Way dotted with molecular clouds, suitable for star formation.

The galactic center is about 30,000 light years from the sun, toward the constellation Sagittarius. It is a complex and dynamic place, with emission nebulae and supernova remnants, as well as molecular clouds of star formation surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the Galaxy. Dust and gas in this region is almost black when viewed by an optical telescope, but can be clearly seen with Herschel instruments.

This image was captured by the infrared cameras PACS (camera and spectrometer detector arrays photoconductors) and SPIRE (receptor spectral imaging and photometric), and was first published in 2011. Obtained as part of Hi-GAL, the study Galactic Plane by Herschel infrared combines observations three wavelengths: 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red).

Herschel space observatory ESA remained active between 2009 and 2013. At the time of its release, had the largest telescope ever sent into space.

See the full article here .


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The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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