Preview from Herschel

I thought you might like to see this image from Herschel, which I got from the ESA website. The Spitzer/MIPS and the Herschel/PACS images of M51 at 160 µm are shown above. The advantage of the larger size of the Herschel telescope is clearly reflected in the much higher resolution of the image: Herschel reveals structures that cannot be discerned in the Spitzer image.

By golly, it seems to work!


8 Responses to “Preview from Herschel”

  1. Astronomer Says:

    Careless writing Peter…angular resolution and mirror size are not related the way you claim!

    • telescoper Says:

      You think larger mirrors have lower resolution then?

      ps. In any case I cut and pasted that text from the ESA site linked to earlier in the message.

  2. Aaron F. Says:

    Coooool! I think there’s something magical about seeing space objects snap into focus like this… it’s a shocking reminder that the far, dim corners of the universe are just as real and enormous as the world in which we live.

    Do you know what features the far-infrared image is showing us? Are we seeing stars, like in the optical band, or is it warm dust and stuff like that?

  3. Aaron F. Says:

    p.s. And what’s that big blob at the top?!

  4. telescoper Says:


    You can find out a bit more about M51 by following the link to the ESA website, where images at different wavelengths can be found. The infrared emission, however, is dominated by dust.

    “That big blob at the top” is a small companion galaxy, NGC 5195.


  5. Of course, all else (like wavelength) being equal, a larger mirror will have a higher resolution, meaning one can see more detail etc. Of course, the smallest detail visible will be smaller. Maybe that is the source of the confusion. What about the scale of a map? If you want to see smaller details, do you need a larger or a smaller scale?

    If you turn up the air-conditioning, does it get warmer or cooler?

  6. Anton Garrett Says:

    Brilliant image, and that’s just the first…

    • telescoper Says:

      Actually it’s even more amazing than you think. The picture was taken before the commissioning phase had really even started. It’s quite stunning that it turned out so superbly. It bodes very well for Herschel’s science operations.

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