Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Herschel Space Telescope uncovers sources of cosmic infrared background

Date:
December 24, 2009
Source:
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
Summary:
A weak cosmic infrared radiation field that reaches Earth from all directions contains not yet deciphered messages about the evolution of galaxies. Using first observations with the PACS Instrument on board ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope, scientists have for the first time resolved more than half of this radiation into its constituting sources. Observations with Herschel open the road towards understanding the properties of these galaxies, and trace the dusty side of galaxy evolution.

Herschel-PACS images of the ‘GOODS-N’ field in the constellation of Ursa Major at far-infrared wavelengths of 100 and 160micrometres. Galaxies at high redshift (i.e. larger cosmological distance) or with colder dust are displayed in red, while nearby galaxies appear in blue.
Credit: Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

A weak cosmic infrared radiation field that reaches Earth from all directions contains not yet deciphered messages about the evolution of galaxies. Using first observations with the PACS Instrument on board ESA's Herschel Space Telescope, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and other institutions have for the first time resolved more than half of this radiation into its constituting sources. Observations with Herschel open the road towards understanding the properties of these galaxies, and trace the dusty side of galaxy evolution.

Related Articles


In the mid 1990's, scientists analyzing data from NASA's COBE spacecraft discovered faint radiation in the far-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum that reaches earth with the same intensity from all directions in space. Immediately, they suspected it to be the aggregate emission of many distant galaxies in the early universe, releasing the same amount of energy in the far-infrared as reaches us in visible light from similarly distant galaxies.

Whereas visible light tells us about the stars in galaxies, the far-infrared is emitted by cold dust that is hiding the newly formed stars. Identifying these surprisingly numerous dusty galaxies has proven difficult, though. Space telescopes are needed to detect far-infrared emission, because it is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. Previous infrared space telescopes have detected far-infrared light from only the brightest of the galaxies forming this cosmic background. To glean any information about the fainter objects, astronomers had to rely on indirect evidence based on shorter wavelength radiation.

ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, launched in May 2009, is the largest space telescope ever built with a mirror diameter of 3.5m. Its PACS instrument is designed to take high-resolution images of the sky at far-infrared wavelengths of 70 to 160micrometres, exactly where most of the cosmic infrared background emission is received. "After the check-out of our instrument, we were yearning to obtain the first deep far-infrared observations of the sky," says Albrecht Poglitsch, principal investigator of PACS.

For a total of 30 hours in October, PACS has observed a small patch of sky in the constellation of Ursa Major, about a quarter of the size of the full moon. "Already in these first observations, we have resolved about 60% of the cosmic infrared background from this region of sky into individual well-detected sources," says Dieter Lutz from the consortium of scientists from five European institutes that have obtained the data. "And this is just the beginning. Yet more sensitive observations will follow soon, and we will be able to understand in detail the epoch of activity and the properties of the galaxies that produce the cosmic infrared background, now that we have pinned them down."

The PACS images of the GOODS-N field were obtained as part of the Herschel Guaranteed Time Key Programme "PACS Evolutionary Probe" (PEP) by a consortium which includes scientists from Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Germany), CEA Saclay (France), Instituto de Astrofνsica de Canarias (Spain), Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (Italy), and the Herschel Science Centre, led by Dieter Lutz (MPE Garching).

The PACS instrument has been designed and built by a consortium of institutes and university departments from across Europe under the leadership of Principal Investigator Albrecht Poglitsch located at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. Consortium members are: Austria: UVIE; Belgium: IMEC, KUL, CSL; France: CEA, OAMP; Germany: MPE, MPIA; Italy: IFSI, OAP/AOT, OAA/CAISMI, LENS, SISSA; Spain: IAC; Hungary: Konkoly; USA: NHSC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. "Herschel Space Telescope uncovers sources of cosmic infrared background." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220175052.htm>.
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. (2009, December 24). Herschel Space Telescope uncovers sources of cosmic infrared background. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220175052.htm
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. "Herschel Space Telescope uncovers sources of cosmic infrared background." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220175052.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Antares Liftoff Explosion

Raw: Antares Liftoff Explosion

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Observers near Wallops Island recorded what they thought would be a routine rocket launch Tuesday night. What they recorded was a major rocket explosion shortly after lift off. (Oct 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

Raw: Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Just hours after an American cargo run to the International Space Station ended in flames, a Russian supply ship has arrived at the station with a load of fresh supplies. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Journalist Captures Moment of Antares Rocket Explosion

Journalist Captures Moment of Antares Rocket Explosion

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 29, 2014) — A space education journalist is among those who witness and record the explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket seconds after its launch. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rocket Explosion Under Investigation

Rocket Explosion Under Investigation

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) — NASA and Orbital Sciences officials say they are investigating the explosion of an unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station. It blew up moments after liftoff Tuesday evening over the launch site in Virginia. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins