Using decommissioned telescopes, scientists have captured striking images with intricate detail about the cosmic dust and clouds that fill the spaces between stars, planets and other celestial bodies. To create images of cosmic dust and clouds, researchers relied on data from various decommissioned missions to capture images of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), Triangulum Galaxy (M33), and the Magellanic Cloud.
The images released by NASA were taken using the European Space Agency (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, which operated from 2009 to 2013. The hot glow of cosmic dust was detected using Herschel’s ultracold instrument.
The image of cosmic dust provides a high-resolution view of fine detail in the dust cloud and shows some complex structures. However, the Herschel Observatory is designed in such a way that it cannot detect light from more scattered and scattered clouds.
As a result, it is likely that Herschel would not be able to detect 30 percent of all the light emitted by cosmic dust. To bridge this gap, the scientists used data from three other decommissioning missions. These include NASA’s now-retired Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) and Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS), as well as ESA’s retired Planck Observatory.
The image produced by combining the data features the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the Triangulum Galaxy (M33), and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. All four of them were found less than 3 million light-years from Earth.
A red tail can be seen from the lower left of the Large Magellanic Cloud, likely formed when it collided with the Small Magellanic Cloud about 100 million years ago. The bubbles in the image indicate that new stars are forming in the region. The green light around these bubbles is thought to be due to the presence of cool dust, while the warmer dust can be seen blue in the image.
“These improved Herschel images show us that the dusty ‘ecosystems’ in these galaxies are very dynamic,” said astronomer Christopher Clark of the Space Science Telescope Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, who led the creation of the new images .