Space Image: Disappearing Act

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

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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: Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

Related Stories

Orion in a New Ligh (w/ Video)

Feb 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Orion Nebula reveals many of its hidden secrets in a dramatic image taken by ESO’s new VISTA survey telescope. The telescope’s huge field of view can show the full splendour of the ...

Amazing Andromeda Galaxy

Oct 03, 2006

The many "personalities" of our great galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, are exposed in this new composite image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Recommended for you

Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

9 hours ago

Dartmouth astrophysicists and their colleagues have not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn't supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were ...

Image: Thor's Helmet nebula in the X-ray spectrum

17 hours ago

This brightly coloured scene shows a giant cloud of glowing gas and dust known as NGC 2359. This is also dubbed the Thor's Helmet nebula, due to the arching arms of gas stemming from the central bulge and ...

Cosmologically complicating dust

18 hours ago

The universe was created 13.7 billion years ago in a blaze of light: the big bang. Roughly 380,000 years later, after matter (mostly hydrogen) had cooled enough for neutral atoms to form, light was able to ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rwinners
5 / 5 (1) Mar 23, 2011
A visible/infrared comparison would have been nice.
yyz
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:

http://www.spitze..._Lrg.jpg

http://www.spitze..._Lrg.jpg

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.