ESA's Herschel mission releases today a series of unprecedented maps of star-forming hubs in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. This is accompanied by a set of catalogues of hundreds of thousands of compact sources that span all phases leading to the birth of stars in our Galaxy. These maps and catalogues will be very valuable resources for astronomers, to exploit scientifically and for planning follow-up studies of particularly interesting regions in the Galactic Plane.
"It is not straightforward to extract compact sources from far-infrared images, where pre-stellar clumps and other proto-stellar objects are embedded in the diffuse interstellar medium that also shines brightly at the same wavelengths," explains Molinari.
Herschel was launched on 14 May 2009 and completed science observations on 29 April 2013.
The Herschel infrared Galactic Plane Survey (Hi-GAL) started out as one of the 21 Open Time Key Programmes carried out with the observatory, and later gained additional time in subsequent calls for observing proposals.
Herschel Project Scientist
ESA, The Netherlands