Stunningly detailed images of our Milky Way galaxy showing whirling clouds of gas peppered with stars have been captured by Europe's $1.4 billion orbiting Herschel Space Observatory. Herschel has the largest mirror ever placed on an orbiting telescope and is able to capture images beyond the reach of other telescopes. The images were captured when the observatory was placed in a special scanning mode, utilizing two of its three telescopic cameras.
The photos reveal the apparent chaos of gas and stars in all levels of development. The images are helping scientists discern the physics of space as well as revealing vital information about "earliest star formation," said a researcher.