Produced by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), this colour leaflet describes the largest space telescope ever to be launched. The Herschel mission, launched in 2009, reveals how the first stars and galaxies formed. Herschel is observing some of the coldest objects in the Universe. It is the biggest space satellite devoted to the far infrared and submillimetre wavelengths, which are a few hundred times longer than the wavelength of visible light. These wavelengths are absorbed by our atmosphere and cannot be seen from Earth. Herschel’s sensitive instruments detect and analyse the long wavelength light produced by stars and galaxies as they are forming, processes which cannot be seen in visible light because they happen inside opaque clouds of gas and dust. STFC is a part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) partnership of research councils.

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