Orion's Rainbow of Infrared Light
March 12th, 2012
11:54 AM ET

Orion's Rainbow of Infrared Light

"This new view of the Orion Nebula highlights fledgling stars hidden in the gas and clouds. It shows infrared observations taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Herschel mission, in which NASA plays an important role.

Stars form as clumps of this gas and dust collapses, creating warm globs of material fed by an encircling disk. These dusty envelopes glow brightest at longer wavelengths, appearing as red dots in this image. In several hundred thousand years, some of the forming stars will accrete enough material to trigger nuclear fusion at their cores and then blaze into stardom.

Spitzer is designed to see shorter infrared wavelengths than Herschel. By combining their observations, astronomers get a more complete picture of star formation. The colors in this image relate to the different wavelengths of light, and to the temperature of material, mostly dust, in this region of Orion. Data from Spitzer show warmer objects in blue, with progressively cooler dust appearing green and red in the Herschel datasets. The more evolved, hotter embryonic stars thus appear in blue.

Infrared data at wavelengths of 8.0 and 24 microns from Spitzer are rendered in blue. Herschel data with wavelengths of 70 and 160 microns are represented in green and red, respectively.

This image was released on Feb. 29, 2012."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Kiran

    Infrared would be the most useful for sure ebsauce then I would be like the Predator! (Insert alien sound)Not to mention knowing if something is hot without touching it. Being able to see things people are hiding. Ultraviolet seems like a bit of a gimmick. X-ray .. Well unless peoples bodies are giving off x-rays or they are in an x-ray machine you aren’t going to get much out of it. More likely you will just be blinded by the next solar flare, same goes for gamma.My guess is that radio waves would not provide enough resolution to be useful due to their large wave length.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  2. James R. Ruston

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could spend a little more money on these endeavors instead of trying to police the world so that the military-industrial complex could be fed and our oil supplies protected.

    March 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm |


  • Elizabeth Landau
  • Sophia Dengo
    Senior Designer