By staring at the sky for over 200 hours, the Spitzer Space Telescope collected light that finally reached Earth after a 13-billion-year voyage through space.This light left its origin so long ago that researchers studying this imagery are essentially peering back — way back — in time, to the ancient cosmic past.Using Spitzer data, a research team observed 135 distant galaxies and found that these celestial bodies, which formed over 13 billion years ago and just 1 billion years after the Big Bang, were brighter than expected.Researchers coupled their Spitzer findings with archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope in a recent paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.Related: This 13.5-Billion-Year-Old Star Is a Tiny Relic from Just After the Big BangThese 135 galaxies were particularly bright in two wavelengths of infrared light, which was created by radiation mingling with galactic gases like hydrogen and oxygen, according to a statement released May 9 — showing that the galaxies were releasing a high level of so-called ionizing radiation.
4
The eyes of the world turned to Messier 87 earlier this month when scientists released the first ever image of a black hole.And this image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows more about the giant galaxy in which the now-famous black hole resides.The imaged black hole was truly gargantuan, with a mass equivalent to 6.5 billion times that of our Sun.And the galaxy surrounding it, Messier 87, is equally huge.Known as a supergiant elliptical galaxy, it is one of the most massive galaxies in the universe and hosts a large number of globular clusters.The image captured by Spitzer shows the galaxy in infrared, as opposed to the radio wavelengths used to capture the black hole image.
5
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003 and was supposed to only be on its mission for two and a half years.But remarkably enough, 16 years later the little telescope that could is still going.Now astronomers working with the data the telescope recorded have shared this infrared image of a beautiful nebula that acts as a nursery for baby stars.The nebula is named Westerhout 40 (W40), and has been nicknamed the Butterfly Nebula because its shape looks like the wings of a butterfly.The giant cloud of dust and gas is a space in which new stars are formed, and the “wings” of the butterfly were created when the hottest stars in the middle of the nebula blow off warm interstellar gas, forming enormous bubbles.The picture is a composition of four images taken by Spitzer using its Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) during the prime phase of its mission.
3
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured a stunning infrared image of a star nursery, which the space agency is calling a 'space butterfly'.The butterfly is a nebula – a cloud of gas and dust.Some nebulae are formed from the material thrown out by a dying star, but it's believed that this particular one is a region where material is being drawn together by gravity, and can eventually coalesce into new stars.The butterfly's 'wings' are bubbles of gas ejected from a dense cluster of stars (which can be seen between the wings in the image).Sometimes radiation and winds from stars cause materials to gather like this, but they can also break up clumps of dust and prevent new stars from forming.The butterfly picture is a composition of four images from the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared array camera (IRAC) in different wavelengths of infrared light: 3.6, 4.5, 5.8 and 8.0 microns (shown as blue, green, orange and red).
Images collected from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope are shedding light on the dramatic conditions that arise when two galaxies collide.Due to the strong gravity resulting from the large mass of a galaxy, galaxies are drawn together and eventually collide.Sometimes this results in one of the galaxies being annihilated, as scientists believe will happen when the Large Magellanic Cloud collides with our Milky Way in two billion years’ time.But at other times, the two galaxies merge together to create one huge galaxy.Merging galaxies appear particularly bright to telescopes using infrared, like Spitzer, so it’s the ideal tool to collect data on this topic.During some mergers, galaxies continue to produce new stars, but more often the star formation process is halted which causes the destruction of one or both galaxies.
5
A building-size object called 'Oumuamua flew through the inner solar system in late 2017.A few astronomers wonder whether it could be alien, but 'Oumuamua is most likely a "slightly weird" asteroid, comet, or space rock.In 2016, something roughly the size of a skyscraper emerged from deep space and careened toward the inner solar system.But it wasn't until four days later that humanity finally spotted it in telescope data.The object was later dubbed 'Oumuamua, a Hawaiian name that's pronounced "oo moo-uh moo-uh" and means "a messenger from afar, arriving first."'Oumuamua remains one of the most significant, confounding, and at times contentious astronomical discoveries in recent memory.
Scientists have learned more about ‘Oumuamua, the hunk of matter that is the first known interstellar object to ever be detected by scientists within the boundary of the solar system.Specifically, observations performed by researchers using the Spitzer Space Telescope and published in The Astronomical Journal have determined that prior observations likely established too generous an upper boundary on how large it could be.While prior observations by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 telescope, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, and ground-based observation stations determined that ‘Oumuamua was no more than 2,600 feet (800 meters) long, NASA wrote in a statement, the Spitzer Space Telescope recently failed to see the object in the infrared spectrum over the course of a two-month survey.Based on various models of what, exactly, ‘Oumuamua is made out of and how reflective it is, that sets a new upper boundary of 1,440 feet (440 meters), and it might actually be as small as 320 feet (100 metres).Those numbers refer to the object’s “spherical dimensions,” or how large it would be if it was a sphere – though it is currently believed to be shaped like a cigar.However, since the non-detection can’t be used to infer shape, the size limits are presented as what ‘Oumuamua’s diameter would be if it were spherical.
3
We all "knead" more space photos in our lives, so here's a stunning one from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of a region of the Milky Way that scientists call the Cat's Paw Nebula.Spitzer sees the world in infrared light, which lets it cut through the clouds of dust that clutter up the galaxy so it can offer a crisp view of places like this nebula.Cat's Paw is located from 4,200 to 5,500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Scorpius.[Spectacular Nebula Photos from Deep Space!]Cat's Paw gets its name from the bubbles of hot gas it contains that — if you squint a bit — resemble feline paw pads.Those bubbles surround newly born stars, and Cat's Paw is still a star-forming neighborhood.
NASA has launched two new apps to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the launch of its Spitzer Space Telescope: a breathtaking VR tour of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system, and a kid-friendly Snapchat-like affair that lets them see themselves as astronauts floating over a nebula.TRAPPIST-1 is the only known system with seven Earth-sized planets that could contain water.Spitzer (together with Hubble and Kepler) provided essential information to help scientists determine the planets' composition, but they're too distant to observe directly so Expolanet Excursions uses artists' impressions to plunge you into the system and show how its worlds compare with out own.The app is available for Oculus and HTC Vive, and NASA has produced a 360-degree video of the experience if you don't have a compatible headset.The NASA Selfies app (available to download free for Android and iOS) is much simpler, and aimed at younger users.Snap a selfie, and the app will paste you into a 'virtual spacesuit' in front of a stunning full-color image from Spitzer.
Hubble may get the attention, but NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has been unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos since its launch on Aug. 25, 2003.Now, it's celebrating 15 years in space, giving us the perfect reason to look back at some of the telescope's most spectacular infrared views of our wild universe.NASA released this new view of the crustacean-like Crab Nebula in 2017.The image required the combined efforts of five different telescopes, including Spitzer and Hubble.The combination of data and imagery gives us a stunning look at a fascinating nebula.
Somewhere between 80,000 and a million years ago, a titanic explosion ripped apart a star in a section of our Milky Way galaxy, some 6,400 light years from Earth.What it left behind were ghostly, red tendrils of energized gas, reaching out into the cosmos.Those tendrils belong to the supernova remnant HBH 3, which was first detected in 1966.Supernova remnants are what remain after a star has exploded -- and we know how stunning those celestial fireworks can turn out to be.Just take a look at the photo NASA snapped of the Crab Nebula back in May 2017.NASA snapped the image above via the Spitzer Space Telescope, one of the four Great Observatories orbiting the Earth, which "sees" in the infrared spectrum.
A newly published study relies on 10 years of observations from a slew of well-known telescopes to sort through that chaos and reveal what seems to have happened when a star met a black hole at the centre of two colliding galaxies.In January 2005, the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands first spotted bright infrared light coming from a set of colliding galaxies 150 million light-years away.Scientists continued watching the scene for the next 10 years, using the 10 telescopes that make up the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the Spitzer Space Telescope, and others.At its brightest, the flare outshone its parent galaxy’s centre in the infrared and radio region, according to the paper in Science.Whatever it was, it didn’t emit significant visible light, probably because the surrounding dust absorbed the visible light and re-radiated it as infrared.A supermassive black hole devoured a star around twice the mass of the Sun, tearing it in half — a tidal disruption event, or TDE.
An image of the galaxy Messier 82 compiling data from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope.The intermediate-mass black hole M82 X-1 is the brightest object in the inset, at about 2 o'clock near the galaxy's center.The hearts of small galaxies may hide a mysterious kind of black hole that has long proved elusive: medium-size black holes with masses between the mass of a few suns and that of millions of suns, a new study finds.One theory involves intermediate-mass black holes — those with masses between 100 and 1 million solar masses — that previous research suggested might serve as the middle stages between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes.[The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe]Now, researchers say they may have detected 10 intermediate-mass black holes in the hearts of galaxies, including five that were previously unknown.
New research published in Nature Astronomy has poured, er, cold water on hopes that it may be possible to detect life on Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.The planets might be just too wet.There was considerable excitement a year ago, when NASA's veteran Spitzer Space Telescope spotted seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star.Astroboffins noted at the time that three of the planets were firmly in the habitable zone and so might have both liquid water and life.With a crushing lack of romance, scientists named the planets b, c, d, e, f, g and h.TRAPPIST-1 itself is a cool red-dwarf star, with the proportions of the planetary system closer to Jupiter and its moons than our Solar System.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope combined their efforts to produce a new look at a pair of galaxies called Arp 142, but more adorably known as "the Penguin and the Egg."The penguin (formal name NGC 2336) likely started off as a spiral galaxy that was distorted by the neighboring egg (NGC 2937).The egg is much different from its companion, both in looks and behavior."The absence of glowing red dust features informs us that it has long since lost its reservoir of gas and dust from which new stars can form," NASA said in a release on Wednesday.This radiant view of the galactic pair comes from combining light in both visible and infrared spectrums as seen by the two space telescopes.While the galaxies strike a charming pose right now, NASA says "their mutual gravitational attraction slowly drags them closer together."
NASA has released an incredible 4K video that allows you to ‘fly’ through the Orion Nebula, one of the brightest and most spectacular examples of a nebula we know of.Nebula’s are a stunning example of the beauty of the universe.These galactic ‘nurseries’ of gas and dust are where stats like our own sun are first created.The 4K video uses state-of-the-art animation techniques to turn our 2D imagery of the Orion Nebula into a vast 3D model which can then be explored at will.As the video zooms in you can make out both the visible light (what we can see with our own eyes) and the infrared view captured by NASA’s Spitzer space telescope.The visible light (measured by Hubble) usually indicates gasses that are glowing through heat, in this case the thousands of degrees.
We're used to seeing spectacular Hubble Space Telescope images of ethereal nebulae.Now we have the chance to fly through the heart of one of the Milky Way's most scenic creations, the Orion Nebula.A Hubble video released Thursday takes a dramatic 3D dive through the nebula's glowing array of gas and dust.The visualization comes from NASA's Universe of Learning program, which provides educational resources to students and others interested in the space agency's astrophysics research.The team combined observations from both Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope to create the experience of floating through the nebula.The video switches between visible and infrared views.
Exoplanets — that is, planets we know exist outside of our own Solar System — come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities.Some are super frigid, while others are boiling hot, and a few fall somewhere in between.A newly-discovered world called “55 Cancri e” is not the kind of place you’d want to hang out, as it’s covered in free-flowing lava on one side and a charred husk on the other, but it might actually be a lot more like Earth than you’d imagine.Called a “Super Earth” because it’s roughly twice the size of our planet, 55 Cancri e is mighty hot.It orbits its star so closely that it’s tidally locked, meaning that the same side of the planet always faces its star.The result is a world with a lava-covered surface on one side and a hardened crust on the other, but observations made by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that the otherwise hostile planet may actually support an atmosphere a lot like Earth.
Even if you have only cursory knowledge of the planets in our Solar System, you know that Earth is on the smaller end of the spectrum in terms of mass.Mercury and Mars are even smaller, but Saturn and the mighty Jupiter, of course, are on the other end of the spectrum.But in the grand scheme of things, Jupiter isn’t actually all that mighty at all, and a new discovery of an absolutely massive planet residing in our galaxy’s “bulge” has scientists struggling to explain how it can even be a planet at all.The new planet, which was discovered using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is named OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, but what it lacks in a flashy name it more than makes up for in sheer size.The planet is estimated to be over 13 times the mass of Jupiter, which is so huge that astronomers are considering the possibility that it’s not actually a planet.Now before you go dreaming of some sort of Star Wars-esque mega space station, you should know that’s not the kind of thing scientists are considering.
schwit1 writes: NASA has issued a request for proposals from private companies or organizations to take over the operation of the Spitzer Space Telescope after 2019.SpaceNews reports: "NASA's current plans call for operating Spitzer through March of 2019 to perform preparatory observations for the James Webb Space Telescope.That schedule was based on plans for a fall 2018 launch of JWST, which has since been delayed to the spring of 2019.Under that plan, NASA would close out the Spitzer mission by fiscal year 2020.That plan was intended to save NASA the cost of running Spitzer, which is currently $14 million a year.The spacecraft itself, though, remains in good condition and could operating well beyond NASA's current plan.
More

Top