The Herschel Infrared Space Observatory discovered that galaxies do not always need to collide with each other to drive vigorous star birth. The finding overturns a long-held assumption and paints a more stately picture of how galaxies evolve.
The new results are based on Herschel’s observations of two patches of sky, each about one-third the size of the full moon.
These observations are unique because Herschel can obtain data at a wide range of infrared light and reveal a more complete picture of star birth than ever seen before.
Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA JPL, which contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments.
Image Credit: ESA–AOES Medialab