Tuesday, December 30, 2008

stardust -- literally

I received a nice gift today from OSI participant Jim -- a link about star creation that lead me to image gallery of the Spitzer Space Telescope which uses infrared imaging to capture objects that have not yet passed into the visible spectrum of light. One astounding example is RCW49 a stellar nursery pictured to the right.

I'm just going to quote from the website: "Located 13,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Centaurus, RCW 49 is a dark and dusty stellar nursery that houses more than 2,200 stars. Because many of the stars in RCW 49 are deeply embedded in plumes of dust, they cannot be seen at visible wavelengths. When viewed with Spitzer's infrared eyes, however, RCW 49 becomes transparent. Like cracking open a quartz rock to discover its jewels inside, the nebula's newborn stars have been dramatically exposed.

This image taken by Spitzer's infrared array camera highlights the nebula's older stars (blue stars in center pocket), its gas filaments (green) and dusty tendrils (pink). Speckled throughout the murky clouds are more than 300 never-before-seen newborn stars....This image was taken on Dec. 23, 2003, and is composed of photographs obtained at four wavelengths: 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), 5.8 microns (orange) and 8 microns (red)."

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