The first Herschel science papers have been published in a special issue of the scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. A total of 152 papers, each around 4 pages long, are freely available on the Astronomy & Astrophysics Herschel Special Issue website, with six describing the mission and its instruments, and the rest describing scientific results.
The results, many of which were presented at the ESLAB meeting in May, cover a vast range of research topics – from solar system objects to some of the most distant galaxies ever observed. The observations are from the “Science Demonstration” phase of the mission, which began in autumn 2009. The SPIRE and PACS instruments began their full-blown science observations in earnest in October 2009. Due to a glitch with an on-board power supply, probably caused by a cosmic ray hitting a computer chip, the HIFI instrument began observations slightly later – in January 2010.
These papers have been released as astronomers all round the world are writing proposals for Herschel observations over the next phase of its mission. The observations in the first phase of the mission were part of Key Programmes.