- NASA handout image dated February 2011 shows a swirling landscape of stars known as the North America Nebula. In visible light, the region resembles North America, but in this image infrared view from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the continent disappears.
- The reason you don’t see it in Spitzer’s view has to do, in part, with the fact that infrared light can penetrate dust whereas visible light cannot. Dusty, dark clouds in the visible image become transparent in Spitzer’s view.
- In addition, Spitzer’s infrared detectors pick up the glow of dusty cocoons enveloping baby stars. Clusters of young stars (about one million years old) can be found throughout the image. Some areas of this nebula are still very thick with dust and appear dark even in Spitzer’s view. The Spitzer image contains data from both its infrared array camera and multi-band imaging photometer. Light with a wavelength of 3.6 microns has been color-coded blue; 4.5-micron light is blue-green; 5.8-micron and 8.0-micron light are green; and 24-micron light is red.
- This infrared image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) showcases the Tadpole Nebula, a star-forming hub in the Auriga constellation about 12,000 light-years from Earth.
- As WISE scanned the sky, capturing this mosaic of stitched-together frames, it caught an asteroid in our solar system passing by. The asteroid, called 1719 Jens, left tracks across the image. A second asteroid was also observed cruising by.