Sunday, July 10, 2022

Stellar Snowflake Cluster | NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (Infrared)

Stellar Snowflake Cluster | NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (Infrared)

Before the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope was the largest infrared telescope. Newborn stars, hidden behind thick dust, are revealed in this image of a section of the Christmas Tree cluster from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, created in a joint effort between the Spitzer infrared array camera and multiband imaging photometer instruments.

The Snowflake Cluster was granted its name due to its unmistakable pinwheel-like shape and its assortment of bright colors. The Christmas Tree star formation consists of young stars obscured by heavy layers of dust clouds. These dust clouds, along with hydrogen and helium are producing luminous new stars. The combination of dense clouds and an array of colors creates a color map filled with varying wavelengths. As seen in this image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, we are able to differentiate between young red stars and older blue stars.

The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility) was launched by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 25, 2003. Consisting of a 0.85-meter telescope and three cryogenically-cooled science instruments, Spitzer was the largest infrared space telescope before the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was launched in December 2021. The telescope was named in honor of American astronomer, Lyman Spitzer, who had promoted the concept of space telescopes in the 1940s. The retired Spitzer was the first observatory to provide high-resolution images of the near- and mid-infrared Universe. Webb, by virtue of its significantly larger primary mirror and improved detectors, will allow us to see the infrared sky with improved clarity (better spatial resolution), enabling even more discoveries.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, managed the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Science operations were conducted at the Spitzer Science Center, at Caltech, in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations were based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA

Image Date: December 22, 2005

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #Science #ChristmasTreeCluster #NGC2264 #Stars #Monoceros #Constellation #Cosmos #Universe #Spitzer #SpaceTelescope #Telescope #Infrared #JPL #Caltech #UnitedStates #STEM #Education

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