This colour-composite image of CW Leonis, also known as IRC +10216, was obtained with the SPIRE and PACS instruments on the Herschel Space Observatory. It combines observations at wavelengths of 160 µm (blue; PACS), 250 µm (green; SPIRE) and 350 µm (red; SPIRE).
A bow shock, created by the interaction of the stellar wind emitted by the star and the interstellar medium, can be seen to the left of the star.
© ESA/PACS/SPIRE/MESS Consortia
ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has detected water vapour in a location previously thought to be impossible - in the atmosphere of an ageing, red giant carbon star. The rich and detailed data provided by Herschel can be explained within a new framework in which ultraviolet photons play a key role. These results are reported in the 2 September issue of Nature.
More details, in the ESA's article