First year in-flight and early science with the Herschel Space Observatory
Herschel, an ESA space observatory equipped with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia with important participation from NASA, was launched on 14 May 2009. With its 3.5m diameter primary mirror, Herschel is the largest space telescope ever launched into space, and carries onboard three science instruments, whose focal plane units are cryogenically cooled inside a superfluid helium cryostat. The PACS and SPIRE instruments provide broadband imaging photometry in six bands centred on 75, 100, 160, 250, 350, and 500 μm and imaging spectroscopy over the range 55-672 μm. The HIFI instrument provides very high-resolution heterodyne spectroscopy over the ranges 157-212 and 240-625 μm The prime science objectives of Herschel are intimately connected to the physics of and processes in the interstellar medium (ISM) in the widest sense: near and far in both space and time, stretching from Solar System objects and the relics of the formation of the Sun and our Solar System, through star formation in and feedback by evolved stars to the ISM, to the star formation history of the Universe, galaxy evolution, and cosmology. The very first observational results from Herschel already show that it will have strong impact on research in these fields as exemplified by the few observational results that will be shown in this talk, just the tip of the iceberg of what is yet to come in the remaining 2 years of operations.
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