Space Image: Disappearing Act

March 23, 2011
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

( -- This swirling landscape of stars is known as the North America Nebula. In visible light, the region resembles North America, but in this new infrared view from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the continent disappears.

Where did the continent go? The reason you don't see it in Spitzer's view is due, in part, to the fact that can penetrate dust whereas visible light cannot. Dusty, dark clouds in the visible image become transparent in Spitzer's view. In addition, Spitzer's infrared detectors pick up the glow of dusty cocoons enveloping baby stars.

Clusters of young stars (about one million years old) can be found throughout the image. Slightly older but still very (about 3-5 million years) are also liberally scattered across the complex. Some areas of this nebula are still very thick with dust and a

Explore further: Spitzer Captures Cosmic 'Mountains of Creation'

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5 / 5 (1) Mar 23, 2011
A visible/infrared comparison would have been nice.
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011
rwinners, totally agree.

I've spent a considerable amount of personal time imaging and visually observing the North American-Pelican Nebula complex, and it is indeed a stunning region of the Cygnus Milky Way (visible to the naked eye, too, given proper conditions).

Here's a couple of Vis-IR comparison images:



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