Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 September 2
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.

Herschel Views the Milky Way
Credit: ESA, SPIRE & PACS Consortia

Explanation: With a 3.5 meter diameter mirror, larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory explores the Universe at infrared wavelengths. Herschel is named for German-born British astronomer Frederick William Herschel who discovered infrared light over 200 years ago. Herschel's sensitive cameras have combined to deliver this spectacular skyscape looking toward the constellation of the Southern Cross. Spanning some 2 degrees the premier, false-color, far-infrared view captures our galaxy's cold dust clouds in extreme detail, showing a remarkable, connected maze of filaments and star-forming regions. Such observations are intended to unravel mysteries of star formation by surveying broad areas of the galactic plane.

Tomorrow's picture: comet stars

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