Building Blocks of Life's Building Blocks Come From Starlight
Feature • October 12, 2016
Life exists in a myriad of wondrous forms, but if you break any organism down to its most basic parts, it's all the same stuff: carbon atoms connected to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. But how these fundamental substances are created in space has been a longstanding mystery.
NASA Team Probes Peculiar Age-Defying Star
Feature • August 29, 2016
For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young. Researchers initially classified the star as elderly, perhaps a red supergiant. But a new study by a NASA-led team of researchers suggests that the object, labeled IRAS 19312+1950, might be something quite different -- a protostar, a star still in the making.
Our Sun Came Late to the Milky Way's Star-Birth Party
Feature • April 9, 2015
Our Sun missed the stellar "baby boom" that erupted in our young Milky Way galaxy 10 billion years ago. During that time the Milky Way was churning out stars 30 times faster than it does today. Our galaxy was ablaze with a firestorm of star birth as its rich reservoir of hydrogen gas compressed under gravity, creating myriad stars. But our Sun was not one of them. It was a late "boomer," arising 5 billion years later, when star birth had plunged to a trickle.
Herschel Uncovers a Dearth of Oxygen near a New Star
Feature • June 9, 2014
A cosmic mystery regarding oxygen has deepened, thanks to new findings from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions. Observations of a newly forming star have revealed strangely low levels of molecular oxygen, the kind we breathe, in the emerging star's gassy, dusty environment.
A Cool Discovery About the Sun's Next-door Twin
Feature • February 20, 2013
The Herschel Space Observatory has detected a cool layer in the atmosphere of Alpha Centauri A, the first time this has been seen in a star beyond our own Sun. The finding is not only important for understanding the Sun's activity, but could also help in the quest to discover proto-planetary systems around other stars.
Armchair Science: Bag and Tag Glowing Galactic Clouds
Feature • December 19, 2012
A new galactic game launches today that lets citizen scientists identify the glowing clouds where future stars will be born. The online experience, called Clouds, is a new addition to the Milky Way Project, where everyone can help astronomers to sort and measure our galaxy.
Revisiting the 'Pillars of Creation'
Feature • January 18, 2012
In 1995, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took an iconic image of the Eagle nebula, dubbed the "Pillars of Creation," highlighting its finger-like pillars where new stars are thought to be forming. Now, the Herschel Space Observatory has a new, expansive view of the region captured in longer-wavelength infrared light.
Herschel Finds Water in a Cosmic Desert
Feature • September 1, 2010
The Herschel infrared space observatory has discovered that ultraviolet starlight is the key ingredient for making water in space. It is the only explanation for why a dying star is surrounded by a gigantic cloud of hot water vapor. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important participation from NASA.
Bright Galaxies Like to Stick Together
Feature • May 27, 2010
Astronomers using the European Space Agency's Herschel telescope have discovered that the brightest galaxies tend to be in the busiest parts of the Universe. This crucial piece of information will enable theorists to fix up their theories of galaxy formation.
Herschel's Multi-Hued View of the Sky
Feature • October 2, 2009
A new image from the Herschel Space Observatory shows off the observatory's talents for seeing multiple wavelengths of light. The infrared observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important participation from NASA, can use two science instruments simultaneously to see five different "colors" of infrared, which is light that we can't see with our eyes.
Herschel Opens Its Infrared Eyes
Feature • June 27, 2009
The Herschel Space Observatory has snapped its first picture since blasting into space on May 14, 2009. The mission, led by the European Space Agency with important participation from NASA, will use infrared light to explore our cosmic roots, addressing questions of how stars and galaxies are born.
Herschel and Planck Launcher at Launch Pad
Feature • May 13, 2009
At around 13:40 CEST today, 8:40 at the launch site in Kourou, the Ariane 5 carrying Herschel and Planck rolled out onto the launch pad from its earlier location in the final assembly building under blue skies complete with puffy clouds.