The Herschel space observatory is a scientific mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). The space telescope is dedicated to the study of the cold universe by performing astronomical observations in the far infrared and submillimetre parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Gould Belt guaranteed time key programmes for the study of star formation with the PACS and SPIRE instruments focus on imaging star-forming regions in the Gould Belt. Regions such Taurus, rho-Ophiuchi will be studied. 460 hours are devoted to this programme.
08 juin 2015
The intricate jumble depicted in this image from ESA’s Herschel space observatory shows the distribution of gas and dust in the Taurus Molecular Cloud, a giant stellar nursery about 450 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, the Bull.
Launched in 2009, Herschel studied the sky at far-infrared wavelengths for almost four years, detecting the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that pervades our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Dust is a minor but crucial ingredient in this diffuse mixture that provides the raw material for stars to form.
One of the observatory’s most striking discoveries was the detection of ubiquitous filaments – elongated and thin structures of gas and dust weaving their way across the Galaxy. Interstellar filaments were already known before Herschel, but the new data revealed them almost everywhere in the Milky Way and highlighted their role as preferred hubs for stellar birth.
Astronomers now believe that filaments precede the onset of most star formation, funnelling interstellar gas and dust into increasingly denser concentrations. Gravity later causes the densest ...
Gould Belt Key Programme
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