The 3.5 meter space telescope was the most advanced of its kind, making groundbreaking discoveries of the nature of our universe.

The mission, a 1 billion Euro space telescope that has been observing the cosmos since 2009, has run out of coolant, forcing its optics offline. It has, in effect, gone blind.

Herschel observed near-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths, the kind of radiation that is abundant inside star-forming nebulae and baby galaxies. But in order to be sensitive to such extreme wavelengths, the 3-ton spacecraft needed to be cooled to near-absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius or -459 F). The coolant, a supply of cryogenic helium, has now run dry and the mission is officially over.

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At a relatively close distance of 2.5 million light-years, Andromeda is very similar in size to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Here, Herschel’s observations (orange) are combined with the Newton XMM telescope’s (blue) / Credit: ESA/Herschel/SPIRE/PACS/HELGA ; ESA/XMM/EPIC/OM

Source: Discovery News