First FT Images of Herschel, Planck and SYLDA 5

Here are some of the first images taken with the Faulkes Telescope in Australia of the Herschel and Planck space observatories which blasted off from French Guiana yesterday. The satellites were partly built in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University.

Herschel will look at infrared radiation emitted by galaxies, stars, planets and comets, will be the biggest space telescope launched, with a mirror 3.5 metres across. By studying infrared light, it will be able to see through the clouds of dust that obscure the astronomer’s view of star and galaxy formation. It will also examine the dust, ejected by dying stars, that spreads the heavy elements necessary for life through the Universe, and analyse the composition of comets and planets in our own solar system.

Planck will make the best measurements yet of the cosmic microwave background, the relic radiation that still exists from the Big Bang.

The animation below shows 2 images taken by Richard Miles of the BAA, a few minutes apart with Herschel, Planck and SYLDA 5 moving against the starry background. SYLDA 5 is the name of the fairing which separated the two observatories when they were sitting in the nosecone of the rocket. Watch this space for more images of these amazing satellites!

 Herschel, Planck and SYLDA