In a universe full of planets, 2007 OR10 is something special. It’s big, just slightly smaller than the size of Pluto. And it’s close, within our very own solar system. So how did it still manage to take astronomers by surprise?
It may not look much, but this fine filament of matter will soon blossom into something bright and spectacular, as its constituent gases begin to burn as a new set of stars.
Five light years wide, but over 280 lightyears in length, the G49 filament winds through space. Where it is brightest, it is also coolest, and that’s where stars are being created.
The largest ever census of dust in the local Universe has been carried out by the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory—and the results are huge and beautiful.
From its launch in 2009, the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory was a busy little satellite. Over its lifetime it made over 37, 000 scientific observations—and this video shows them all, condensed into less than one minute.
Replace that mountain of awkward reusable shopping bags you've somehow amassed with Herschel's new packable backpack, which should make hauling home a week's worth of groceries a lot easier. Made from rip stop nylon, the packs can be squeezed into a compact internal pouch for easy storage or carrying as an emergency…
In four billion years, Andromeda will collide with the Milky Way. That will be an amazing view—but until then we have to look at it from a distance. This new photo by the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory shows a beautiful view. From NASA:
Infrared is a whole spectrum of light that we can only see in Predator movies, and special episodes of Cops. How did people first discover this stealthy light? It all started with a bunch of thermometers in the hands of an astronomy genius — and it's an experiment you can reproduce at home.
This doesn't look much like a galaxy, but it is in fact the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the biggest satellite galaxies of our Milky Way. This awesome infrared image reveals the real look of this galaxy like never before.
Where Earth got its oceans is a big question, and the currently preferred explanation is that ancient comets brought in huge amounts of water from the outer solar system. That hypothesis just received some big evidence to back it up.
We've discovered evidence of just about every gas imaginable out in space, but one we'd never seen was molecular oxygen, the stuff we breathe everyday. Now, thanks to powerful infrared telescopes, we've found the very first traces of space oxygen.
Molecular windstorms are ripping through the universe at 10,000 times the speed of the most powerful Earth hurricane. These super-sized storms can strip galaxies of the raw materials needed to make new stars in just 100 million years.
It's confirmed: Space is bubbling with the potential for life. The Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared—on board the Herschel Space Observatory—has sent a high resolution analysis of the Orion Nebula's chemistry. It has scientists very excited.
Europe and the USA have joined forces to bring the world some beautiful images of distant galaxies. The image above, of the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, combines pictures from the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory and the Hubble telescope.