Dark Wombs of Stars
Space gas and dust as viewed from the Herschel Observatory

This image from the Herschel Observatory reveals some of the coldest and darkest material in our galaxy.  The choppy clouds of gas and dust pictured here are just starting to condense into new stars. The yellow filaments show the coldest dust dotted with the youngest embryonic stars.

Infrared, or submillimeter, light with a wavelength of 250 microns is represented in blue; 350-micron light in green; and 500-micron light in red. Much of this region of our galaxy would be hidden in visible-light views.

The area pictured is in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, 60 degrees from the center. It spans a region 2.1 by 2.1 degrees.

This image was taken by Herschel's spectral and photometric imaging receiver. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important participation from NASA.

Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full resolution jpeg (297KB)