Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Herschel Highlights

  • Herschel will carry the largest telescope ever flown in space, with a primary mirror 3.5 m in diameter.

  • The first space observatory to observe the entire range of wavebands from the far-infrared to submillimetre.

  • The highest sensitivity in its wavelength range.

  • It will cover unexploited infrared wavelengths allowing it to study the earliest stages in the life of a star that have not been observed by other telescopes, revealing the youngest stars in our Galaxy for the first time.

  • Herschel will feature the highest-ever resolution in the far infrared: it will be able to see detail never seen before.

  • The first observatory capable of studying the earliest stages of star formation.

  • Herschel will take the first census of star-forming galaxies throughout the Universe at the peak of star formation, allowing astronomers to chart the star formation history and evolution of galaxies in the Universe.

  • The first observatory to take a census of ongoing star formation in our galactic neighbourhood .

  • The most powerful tool to search for water throughout our Galaxy.

Space-based observations have never been performed in Herschel's main observing band, enlarging the mission's discovery potential. Given these unprecedented observing capabilities, the mission has tremendous discovery potential. As it opens new windows to the Universe, there is a good chance that Herschel will discover the unanticipated.