Human Journey

OMG Orion!

Happy almost Easter weekend! Here in D.C., spring weather is in full force, with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and cherry blossom petals drifting on the light breeze.

I gotta to break away from the keyboard, but I leave you with an Easter egg-colored eye popper from the Spitzer Space Telescope:

orion-spitzer-warm.jpg

Click here for a Grade AA Extra Large version

—Image courtesy NASA/JPL

In brief, this is a new view of the Orion nebula, which sits in the “sword” of the constellation of Orion, the Hunter.

The nebula is a star factory shrouded in dust and gas. But with Spitzer’s infrared eye, astronomers are able to peer through the haze to see the clusters of hot young stars inside.

This shot actually combines Spitzer data with additional infrared light readings from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, or 2MASS, which uses combined data from telescopes in Arizona and Chile.

Light captured by both Spitzer and 2MASS has been color-coded so that the normally invisible infrared wavelengths appear in this picture as shades of red, green, and blue.

The picture is a product of what’s called Spitzer’s “warm” mission—the telescope continues to operate even though the orbiting spacecraft has run out of coolant, which had been keeping some of its instruments chill enough to function.

Other instruments can adapt to the temperature shift, so Spitzer is now working on new kinds of projects that make the best use of its remaining parts.

Wanna know more? The Spitzer team has a nifty release that explains one such “warm” project focused on the Orion nebula. Really, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

And with that, I am outta here!

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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