The Herschel infrared observatory has an unprecedented view on the cold universe, bridging the gap between what can be observed from the ground and earlier infrared space missions, and bringing to light previously unseen star-forming regions and galaxies enshrouded in dust.
This artist's impression of Herschel is set against an image captured by the observatory, showing baby stars forming in the Rosette nebula. The bright spots are dusty cocoons containing massive forming stars, each one up to ten times the mass of our own sun.
The Rosette nebula resides some 5,000 light-years from Earth and is associated with a larger cloud that contains enough dust and gas to make the equivalent of 10,000 sun-like stars.
The image is a three-color composite made by Herschel's Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) at wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red) [see PIA13028].
Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA's Herschel Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.