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024521

In visible light, the bulk of our Milky Way galaxy's stars are eclipsed behind thick clouds of galactic dust and gas. But to the infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, distant stars and dust clouds shine with unparalleled clarity and colour. from the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire project, a plethora of stellar activity in the Milky Way's galactic plane, reaching to the far side of our galaxy, is exposed. This image spans 9 degrees of sky (approximately the width of a fist held out at arm's length). The red clouds indicate the presence of large organic molecules (mixed with the dust), which have been illuminated by nearby star formation. The patches of black are dense obscuring dust clouds impenetrable by even Spitzer's super-sensitive infrared eyes. Bright arcs of white throughout the image are massive stellar incubators. In contrast to the plentiful examples of stellar youth in this montage, Spitzer also sees an object called a planetary nebula (top row, middle, fig. 1). Such nebulae are the final gasp of dying stars like our sun, whose outer layers are blown into space, leaving a burnt out core of a star, called a white dwarf, behind.

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024521 (1).jpg
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Irish Photo Archive
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9000x2000 / 3.8MB
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In visible light, the bulk of our Milky Way galaxy's stars are eclipsed behind thick clouds of galactic dust and gas. But to the infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, distant stars and dust clouds shine with unparalleled clarity and colour. from the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire project, a plethora of stellar activity in the Milky Way's galactic plane, reaching to the far side of our galaxy, is exposed. This image spans 9 degrees of sky (approximately the width of a fist held out at arm's length). The red clouds indicate the presence of large organic molecules (mixed with the dust), which have been illuminated by nearby star formation. The patches of black are dense obscuring dust clouds impenetrable by even Spitzer's super-sensitive infrared eyes. Bright arcs of white throughout the image are massive stellar incubators. In contrast to the plentiful examples of stellar youth in this montage, Spitzer also sees an object called a planetary nebula (top row, middle, fig. 1). Such nebulae are the final gasp of dying stars like our sun, whose outer layers are blown into space, leaving a burnt out core of a star, called a white dwarf, behind.