ESA’s Herschel and Planck Space Telescopes Capture Star Formation


A collection of fantastic photos based on data from ESA’s Herschel and Planck space telescopes display the influence of magnetic fields on the clouds of dust and gas where stars are forming. 

The pictures are part of a research by astronomer Juan D. Soler from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany. Soler utilized data collected during Herschel’s “Gould Belt Survey,” and Planck’s all-sky measurements. Here are all the essential details you need to know.

Herschel and Planck’s Recent Observations Support Astronomers’ Researches

Herschel and Planck were vital in examining the cold Universe and shed light on the many complexities of the interstellar environment – the combination of dust and gas that fills the space between the stars in a galaxy. Both space telescopes ended their mission in 2013, but discoveries continue to be realized from their treasure trove of data. 

Herschel unveiled in never-seen details the filaments of thick material in molecular clouds across our galaxy and their crucial role in star formation development. Filaments can fragment into clusters, which eventually crumble into stars. The results from Herschel indicate a close link between the presence of thick clumps and the filament structure. 

Moreover, Herschel succeeded in observing the sky in far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths. The data can be seen in recent images as a mix of different colors, with light emitted by interstellar dust grains combined within the gas. Such a thing is probably the most intriguing thing ever done by a space telescope. 

The texture of faint grey bands spreading across the pictures like a drapery pattern is based on Planck’s observations of the direction of the polarized light released by the dust. It also indicates the orientation of the magnetic field. 

The recent research investigated many nearby molecular clouds all within 1500 light-years from the Sun, including Ophiuchus, Orion, Corona, Aquila Rift, Australis, Taurus, Lupus, Perseus, and Chamaeleon-Musca.

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