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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just for fun: 1000 Days of Infrared Wonders

The Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has been recording images for the past 1000 days.  The top ten images, as selected by IRAC team members, can be found here.

Here's just one example:

After a long life of hydrogen-burning nuclear fusion, stars move into later life states whose details depend on their masses. This IRAC image of the Helix Nebula barely spots the star itself at the center, but clearly shows how the aging star has ejected material into space around it, creating a "planetary nebula." The Helix Nebula is located 650 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. This image was taken during Spitzer's warm mission. 
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / J. Hora (CfA) & W. Latter (NASA/Herschel)