Hubble Deep Field compared to 3% of the full Herschel ATLAS
The Herschel ATLAS is the largest key astronomical project awarded on ESA's Herschel Space Observatory as an Open Time survey. It is led by Prof Steve Eales and Loretta Dunne, formerly a Ph.D. student in Cardiff and now a lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
We were awarded 600 hours of time on Herschel to survey a huge area of the sky (a whopping 550 square degrees), four times larger than all the other Herschel extragalactic surveys combined. We have used both the PACS and SPIRE cameras, which take pictures in infra-red and submillimetre light at wavelengths of 100, 160, 250, 350 and 500 µm. Herschel is the largest, most powerful infrared telescope ever flown in space and is the first space observatory to observe from the far-infrared to the submillimetre waveband, unveiling the mysterious hidden cold Universe to us for the first time. We have now completed the observations for our survey and are now analyzing the results.
The image to the right shows one of our first images (3% of the final survey). Each of the points is a distant galaxy, and for comparison we have shown the area covered by a survey of the Hubble Deep Field made with the world's first submm camera, SCUBA, in the late nineties. The SCUBA survey detected five galaxies, whereas we expect our Herschel survey to detect approximately 250,000 galaxies, from galaxies in the nearby Universe to ones at redshifts of 3 to 4, when the Universe was only a few billion years old. We have already used our first images to develop a new method for finding gravitational lenses, to study the cosmic evolution of galaxies over the last few billion years, and to find an ultra-low-mass protostar. More results can be found at H-ATLAS. Our survey has so far produced 32 published papers, including one in Science, with over 40 in preparation.