Herschel has delivered spectacular vistas of cold gas clouds lying near the plane of the Milky Way, revealing intense, unexpected activity. The dark, cool region is dotted with stellar factories, like pearls on a cosmic string.
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.
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).
Five-colour infrared image of a reservoir of cold gas in the constellation of the Southern Cross. The region is located about 60° from the Galactic Centre, thousands of light-years from Earth. The images cover an area of 2°x 2° on the sky.
The SPIRE and PACS images have been combined to a single composite; here blue denotes 70 micron and green 160 micron emission, while red is the combination of the emission from all three SPIRE bands at 250, 350 and 500 microns.
Credits: ESA and the SPIRE & PACS consortia