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Seeing The Cosmos Through 'Warm' Infrared Eyes

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posted on Aug, 20 2009 @ 10:38 AM
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ScienceDaily (Aug. 20, 2009) — NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has taken its first shots of the cosmos since warming up and starting its second career. The infrared telescope ran out of coolant on May 15, 2009, more than five-and-half-years after launch, and has since warmed to a still-frosty 30 Kelvin (about minus 406 Fahrenheit).

New images taken with two of Spitzer's infrared detector channels -- the two that work at the new warmer temperature -- demonstrate that the observatory remains a powerful tool for probing the dusty universe. The images show a bustling star-forming region, the pretty remains of a star like the sun, and a swirling galaxy lined with stars.

"Spitzer continues to provide us with a unique view of stars, galaxies and planets," said Spitzer Project Scientist Michael Werner, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.



The main picture shows a cloud, known as DR22, bursting with new stars in the Cygnus region of the sky. Spitzer's infrared eyes can see dust, and see through dust, giving it a unique view into star-forming nests. The blue areas are dusty clouds, and the orange is mainly hot gas. The picture at upper right shows a relatively calm galaxy called NGC 4145. This galaxy has already made most of its stars and has little star-forming activity. It is located 68 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. Blue shows starlight and dust. The final picture at lower right shows a dying star called NGC 4361. This star was once a lot like our sun, before it evolved and puffed out its outer layers. The object, called a planetary nebula, is unusual in that it has four lobes, or jets, of ejected material instead of the standard two. Astronomers suspect that there might be two dying stars inside the nebula, each producing a bipolar jet. Orange primarily shows heated gas. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).

[edit on 20-8-2009 by tmayhew01]




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