Herschel Opens Up the Cool Universe

Oct. 11 & 12

The Herschel Space Observatory, launched on May 14, 2009, is designed to carry out astronomical observations at wavelengths from ~1mm to 100 microns. This region of the spectrum, between radio waves and heat radiation, is a unique probe of the “cool” universe, that is, of objects at temperatures between a few degrees and 100 degrees above absolute zero. This includes material out of which new stars are forming in locations ranging from distant galaxies to nearby cold clouds of gas. To carry out these observations, Herschel has the largest precision telescope launched for astronomy, and three very sensitive instruments. Among many projects, Herschel has followed the “water trail” – observing this molecule in a wide range of sources ranging from giant molecular clouds to protoplanetary disks around young stars to comets in the solar system. This talk will present some of the highlights of Herschel observations and describe how they are changing our picture of how new stars and planets form.

Dr. Paul Goldsmith

Standard Podcast: Play video (with captions)