Herschel's View of Rho Ophiuchi

Nhsc_nhsc2017-002a_500

nhsc_nhsc2017-002a September 18th, 2017

Credit: ESA/Herschel/NASA/JPL-Caltech CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO; Acknowledgement: R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)

This image shows Rho Ophiuchi, a vast stellar nursery where new stars take shape from billowing clouds of gas, as viewed by ESA's Herschel Space Observatory. Located about 440 light-years from us, in the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, Rho Ophiuchi is one of the nearest star-forming regions to Earth.

Some of these clouds appear dark when observed at optical and near-infrared wavelengths due to the presence of dust, a minor but crucial component of the interstellar medium that pervades our Galaxy. However, they appeared anything but dark to the infrared eye of Herschel.

Observing the sky at far-infrared and sub-millimetre wavelengths from 2009 to 2013, Herschel could catch the faint glow of dust grains interspersed in these clouds. Astronomers can use this glow to trace the otherwise dark gas where star formation unfolds.

Herschel's view reveals a tangled network of filaments, weaving their way from the darker, less dense regions on the left of the image towards the brighter, denser parts of the cloud, on the right. The bright clumps embedded in the cloud are the seeds of future stars and planets.

Filaments like these were uncovered by Herschel throughout the Galaxy, indicating that these structures play a fundamental role in the processes that lead to the birth of stars.

This three-colour image combines Herschel observations at 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red), and spans 7.9 by 4.6; north is up and east to the left.

Image Source: /image/nhsc/nhsc2017-002a

Curator: NASA Herschel Science Center, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Public Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Rho Ophiuchi

Distance

Universescale1
440 light years
Nhsc_nhsc2017-002a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 16h 34m 59.3s
DEC = -23° 7’ 45.9”
Orientation
North is 33.0° CCW
Field of View
7.8 x 4.9 degrees
Constellation
Ophiuchus
Nhsc_nhsc2017-002a_1280
×
ID
nhsc2017-002a
Subject Category
Subject Name
Rho Ophiuchi
Credits
ESA/Herschel/NASA/JPL-Caltech CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO; Acknowledgement: R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)
Lightyears
440
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/nhsc/nhsc2017-002a
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Instrument
Color Assignment
Band
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
248.7469509, -23.1294216
Reference Dimension
8751.0, 5464.0
Reference Pixel
4376.5, 2733.0
Scale
-0.000890002, 0.00089000178
Rotation
32.96
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
WCS retrieved using CXCs PinpointWCS
Creator (Curator)
NASA Herschel Science Center
URL
http://www.herschel.caltech.edu/
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
Public Domain
Publisher
NASA Herschel Science Center
Publisher ID
nhsc
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nhsc/nhsc2017-002a
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2017-09-21T00:02:44Z
Metadata Version
1.1
×

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

×
Universescalefull
440 light years