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MPE Press Release July,10 2009

Looking deep into the Cat's Eye with Herschel/PACS

Herschel Satellit
An overlay of a snapshot of individual PACS spectra for a line of ionized nitrogen (all taken simultaneously with the PACS spectrometer) on the dust continuum as observed with the PACS photometer. A near-infrared image taken by the Spitzer Space Observatory illustrates the inner region of the nebula that was covered by the PACS measurements. The lower part of the figure shows a comparison of the spatial distribution of two different spectral lines: ionized nitrogen and neutral oxygen. The spectral intensity distributions were reconstructed from a mosaic of 9 such snapshots, spatially sligthly displaced against each other. The two lines obviously originate from different components within the object - where the ionised nitrogen emission is brightest, there is a "hole" in the neutral oxygen. This is seen most clearly in the 2-colour composite image at the lower right corner (neutral oxygen is shown in green, ionized nitrogen in red).
After the surprising success of the earlier "sneak preview" of the PACS photometer - a spectacular far-infrared colour image of the Whirlpool Galaxy M51 - the first light observation of the spectrometer part of the instrument was carried out on June 23. The first object the telescope was pointed at with the PACS spectrometer was the planetary nebula NGC 6543 in the constellation of Draco, also known as the Cat's Eye Nebula, which was first discovered by William Herschel in 1786.

Already, these very first data fulfill the expectations of the PACS-Team at MPE at this point and are of unprecedented sensitivity. The enormoue effort that went into the development of PACS is beginning to pay off now. "A lot of excitement is ahead of us"

ESA Press Release:   external link ESA's herschel web site

more information (pdf file):   externer Verweis ESA


Albrecht Poglitsch
Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics
Phone +49 89 30000-3293
E-Mail: alpog@mpe.mpg.de

Dr. Mona Clerico
Press Officer
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
and Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics
Phone +49 89 30000-3980
E-Mail: clerico@mpe.mpg.de

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