Ariane launches two satellites to study the childhood of the universe and the birth of stars



The Herschel and Planck satellites have been launched today by the Ariane rocket. Its research will include the birth of stars. Ariane departed at 15h12 from the Kourou base in French Guyana.

Planck and Herschel is positioned 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, and rotates around the Sun. This position was chosen so that the two satellites, cooled to a temperature close to absolute zero, are not bothered by heat or the shadow of the Earth as is the case of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Herschel observatory is the largest ever sent with a mirror 3.5 meters in diameter. It can see the stars who never be able to look and of molecular clouds to understand how stars are formed.

Equipped with two cameras and a high resolution spectrometer, "Herschel is very different observatories currently in orbit. It is only the far-infrared radiation," explains Jean Dolphin Point, Herschel program director at EADS Astrium. "It will turn the clock back to a period of formation of the universe between 400000 and 1 billion years after the Big Bang. We can better understand the formation of the universe, as this period 'n' has never been observed. "

For its part, Planck will study the childhood of the universe by observing the background radiation, a light emitted over 300000 years after the Big Bang.

This program led by the European Space Agency (Esa) will cost 1.8 billion dollars.

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