Dusty Stellar Nurseries

This image is a zoomed in region of our very first dataset taken with Herschel. It shows a small area of sky where each galaxy appears as just a pinprick but its brightness allows astronomers to determine how quickly it is forming stars.  Roughly speaking, the brighter the galaxy the more stars it is forming.  There are thousands of galaxies in this image! What we can also see here, is the faint wispy material which is from dust in our own Galaxy, sitting in front of the distant galaxies in the background.  The Herschel-ATLAS data will allow us to search for stars in their earliest star forming phases, when they are embedded in a dusty cocoon. We will also find unexpected sources, possibly supernova remnants, dusty stars and possibly weird Galactic objects which happen to be far out of the Galactic plane.

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