HerMES Data Release
A patch of sky in the constellation of Boötes, one of 13 maps released as part of the HerMES data relase. Image credit: ESA/Herschel/SPIRE/HerMES consortium
The HerMES team are very pleased to announce this month (April 2012) their first major data release, DR1.
This release includes sky maps and object catalogues made with the SPIRE instrument. The maps were made using 250, 350 and 500 µm filters. These sub-milimeter wavelengths had not been significantly exploited before the Herschel mission. The maps cover around 74 square degrees on the sky, which if extended out from Earth encompasses a volume of 660 million cublic megaparsecs (one megaparsec is just over 3 million light years). This is twice the volume covered by the largest survey at optical wavelengths, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has mapped a much larger area but cannot see such distant objects. Such a large survey volume is made possible largely thanks to fact that many of the objects in the HerMES fields are billions of light years away. The data includes many very well-studied extragalactic survey fields, including GOODS-North, the Lockman Hole, and the Boötes field, and is expected to facilitate a huge range of astrophysics and cosmology.
The maps provide a very high quality view of the sub-millimeter sky, limited primarily by the diameter of the Herschel mirror. The catalogues extracted from these maps include over 17,000 galaxies. Extensive simulations have demonstrated that these catalogues are of very high quality, with around 90% of the galaxies having very reliable positions and brightnesses.
This data release follows two early data releases (July 2010 and September 2011) which were limited to the brightest catalogued sources over a smaller range of fields.
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