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More First-Light Data From Herschel Space Telescope

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the staring-at-gas dept.

Space 21

davecl writes "First-light images and spectra have now been released for all three of the instruments on Herschel. (The first images came out a couple of weeks back.) The news is covered on the BBC, on the ESA website, on the Herschel mission blog, and elsewhere. The data all looks fantastic, and is especially impressive since the satellite was only launched about 7 weeks ago. I work on the SPIRE instrument and help maintain the blog; but even I am astounded by the amount of information in the SPIRE images."

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Holy fucking shit! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28651497)

Holy fucking shit! More first light data? From Herschel?! THE SPACE TELESCOPE? I've been waiting for this all day!!!!

Looking forward to the Wallpapers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28651689)

More watermarked astronomy wallpapers would sure be a great way to raise the general awareness of astronomy.

golden age of astronomy (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 years ago | (#28651801)

More and better Earth and Space-based telescopes just keep on coming.
Its appropriate since Galileo took this Dutch novelty exactly four centuries ago and asked "I wonder what I'll see if I look at the night sky?"

I'm looking forward to when various systematic mapping projects put their results into Google Sky and related cloud servers for public access. If you check out the site nmannedspaceflight.com [unmannedspaceflight.com] you'll see how amatuers are poring over this kind of data to make important discoveries of near earth objects, internal shadows in Saturns rings, and the like which professionals may have overlooked.

If you want to help, try Galaxy Zoo (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | about 5 years ago | (#28653767)

There are several community astronomy projects.

You can contribute to http://www.galaxyzoo.org/ [galaxyzoo.org] - it's easy, doesn't require any prior knowledge and might help us make interesting discoveries.

Hershel vs. Hubble (3, Informative)

moon3 (1530265) | about 5 years ago | (#28651917)

Saying that the blurry ESA's image is showing some unseen features is rather strange. It is an IR image, but still.. Hubble shows amazing detail on M74, and I mean amazing.

Hubble:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap071201.html [nasa.gov]

Hershel:
http://www.esa.int/images/SPIRE250_M66_M74_fig1_H.jpg [esa.int]

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (4, Informative)

davecl (233127) | about 5 years ago | (#28652643)

Hubble works in the optical at wavelengths more than 100 times smaller than those Herschel is using, so it's not surprising you can see more detail. However, the Herschel images aren't showing stars at all, they're showing cool dust, just 50 or so degrees above absolute zero, material that Hubble just cannot see at all (and to be fair, Herschel can't see the stars that Hubble can see).

Trying to compare Hubble with Herschel is like comparing a fire with a bucket of liquid nitrogen.

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 5 years ago | (#28653453)

Just a quick question. "Herschel can't see the stars that Hubble can see." Is a star DARKER than interstellar dust at these frequencies? Or is it just not bright enough to stand out? (Probably has something to do with black body radiation).

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (3, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#28655197)

Just a quick question. "Herschel can't see the stars that Hubble can see." Is a star DARKER than interstellar dust at these frequencies? Or is it just not bright enough to stand out? (Probably has something to do with black body radiation).

The stars are behind the dust, and the dust basically acts like a color filter. So it's transparent at some frequencies and you can see the stars, and it's opaque at other frequencies and you can't see the stars (but can see the dust).

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 5 years ago | (#28656369)

Oh, I didn't realize that it would filter out the frequencies it was itself radiating in but I guess that makes sense. Thanks! - Teddy

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28655153)

Trying to compare Hubble with Herschel is like comparing a fire with a bucket of liquid nitrogen.

Which is easy if you're like me and the only criterion for comparison you care about is: Does it feel good or bad on my junk?

Easy-peasy. Fire on the junk: Bad. Liquid Nitrogen on the junk: Bad. Hubble Space Telescope on the junk: Bad. Hershel Space Telescope on the junk: ooh yeah!

So sorry, I don't find your analogy very accurate.

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (1)

jmnugent (705421) | about 5 years ago | (#28655387)

This might be a dumb question, but since the instruments (Hubble and Hershel) gather 2 different types of information, are the respective scientific teams going to overlay Hubble/Hershel data and extrapolate the differences ? or would that not be worth doing ? (seems to me like it would be.. but again I dont know much about space observatories)

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (2, Insightful)

True Grit (739797) | about 5 years ago | (#28666131)

since the instruments (Hubble and Hershel) gather 2 different types of information, are the respective scientific teams going to overlay Hubble/Hershel data and extrapolate the differences?

What a lot of people don't know is that many of those colorized images released by NASA for example, are in fact overlays using data from Hubble *and* other instruments providing data from the rest of the frequency spectrum outside of the optical band.

In the press these images are just attributed to Hubble, because a lot of people know about Hubble but not the other ones, such as the infra-red Spitzer Space Telescope [wikipedia.org] , and because they don't have to explain the part about it being a computer-generated combination of data from multiple sources, instead they just say its "a picture from Hubble".

The point many miss is that Hubble is almost *blind* to a *majority* of the Universe. Much of what we know about the Universe comes from observing the infra-red and radio frequencies, not the optical frequencies.

So to answer your question, yes, they've been combining data from multiple sources all along, but the media, in their never-ending quest to dumb us all down, have just been leaving out a few details. Shocking, I know...

Re:Hershel vs. Hubble (1)

Fireflymantis (670938) | about 5 years ago | (#28657941)

I RTFA, and it looks like they have compelling evidence of water and carbon in some very stunning places:
http://www.esa.int/images/SPIRE_01_H.jpg
--
Scientists used Herschelâ€(TM)s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on 22 June to look for warm molecular gas heated by newborn massive stars in the DR21 star-forming region in Cygnus. HIFI provided excellent data in two different observing modes, returning information on the composition of the region with unprecedented accuracy and resolution. Scientists observed ionised carbon, carbon monoxide, and water.

Neat.

Light data? (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | about 5 years ago | (#28652333)

I'm waiting for the heavy data.

Re:Light data? (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | about 5 years ago | (#28652829)

While you're waiting, why not satisfy your thirst with some heavy water?

Second First Data? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28652983)

The second first data is certainly nice, but I can't wait to see the third first data, that will certainly blow off the roof.

Re:Second First Data? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#28658953)

The second first data is certainly nice

And much nicer than the first second data!

why was this even posted? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28654877)

10 whole comments after over 4.5 hours. scientific articles are lost on slashtards. all they care about is free music, free software and politicizing non political issues.

Re:why was this even posted? (0, Offtopic)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28655401)

10 whole comments after over 4.5 hours. scientific articles are lost on slashtards. all they care about is free music, free software and politicizing non political issues.

Exactly what a Libertarian would say.

Re:why was this even posted? (1)

khayman80 (824400) | about 5 years ago | (#28656427)

I really enjoyed the article, personally. But I didn't post because I didn't have anything to add. I did post [wordpress.com] on the mission blog itself, and then I came here to discover that another poster answered my question by saying that they'd measured the temperature of the dust blobs in the M74 picture. That means it can't be foreground stars as I'd been wondering.

Re:why was this even posted? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#28658971)

Slashdot doesn't like non-passionate discussions. That's why whenever a scientific article states they've discovered hydrocarbons on Titan/some nebulae/Mars quickly enough you get "let's go and give the Titanians some democracy!" jokes and it quickly degenerates into "Bush or Obama, they're both the same side of different coins dude, you need to look at the bigger picture, it's all about the 'third party' vs 'them'".

If you can't make a discussion into a well-heated flamefest then there's no point.

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