Part of the Herschel-ATLAS survey field

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This image shows the first area of sky viewed as part of the Herschel-ATLAS survey. It is around 4 degrees across – 8 times the width of the Full Moon – and located in the constellation of Hydra. There are over 6000 galaxies present in this image, some seen as they were billions of years ago, and almost all so far away that they are seen by Herschel as a single point of light. Also visible, as wispy structures draped across the image, are diffuse clouds of dust in our own Galaxy. This image makes up around 1/30th of the total area which will be observed by Herschel-ATLAS, in which astronomers should eventually find around 250,000 galaxies.

This colour-composite image combines SPIRE observations at wavelengths of 250 µm (blue), 350 µm (green) and 500 µm (red).

Credit: ESA / SPIRE / Herschel-ATLAS

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