Astronomers see distant eruption as black hole destroys star

For the first time, astronomers have directly imaged the formation and expansion of a fast-moving jet of material ejected when the powerful gravity of a supermassive black hole ripped apart a star that wandered too close ...

NASA Learns More About Interstellar Visitor 'Oumuamua

In November 2017, scientists pointed NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope toward the object known as 'Oumuamua—the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system. The infrared Spitzer was one of many telescopes pointed ...

NASA team probes peculiar age-defying star

For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

'Oumuamua one year later

One year ago this week astronomers discovered an unusual object moving through space not too far from the Earth's orbit. In just a few days they realized it could not be a normal asteroid or comet – its path showed that ...

Strange new 'species' of ultra-red galaxy discovered

In the distant reaches of the universe, almost 13 billion light-years from Earth, a strange species of galaxy lay hidden. Cloaked in dust and dimmed by the intervening distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope couldn't spy ...

Mysterious isolated object investigated by astronomers

(—An international team of astronomers led by Philippe Delorme of the Grenoble Alpes University in France has recently investigated a mysterious object designated CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9 (CFBDSIR 2149-0403 for ...

The giant galaxy around the giant black hole

On April 10, 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) unveiled the first-ever image of a black hole's event horizon, the area beyond which light cannot escape the immense gravity of the black hole. That giant black hole, with ...

Hubble breaks cosmic distance record

By pushing the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to its limits astronomers have shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the distance to the most remote galaxy ever seen in the Universe. This galaxy existed just 400 ...

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Spitzer Space Telescope

The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, SIRTF) is an infrared space observatory launched in 2003. It is the fourth and final of NASA's Great Observatories.

The planned nominal mission period was to be 2.5 years with a pre-launch expectation that the mission could extend to five or slightly more years until the onboard liquid helium supply was exhausted. This occurred on 15 May 2009 . The two shortest wavelength modules of the IRAC camera are still operable in a "warm" (ca. 30K) telescope so surveys will continue at reduced sensitivity in these wavebands only in the Spitzer Warm Mission.

In keeping with NASA tradition, the telescope was renamed after successful demonstration of operation, on December 18, 2003. Unlike most telescopes which are named after famous deceased astronomers by a board of scientists, the name for SIRTF was obtained from a contest open to the general public.

The result was it being named in honor of Lyman Spitzer, one of the 20th century's great scientists. Though he was not the first to propose the idea of the space telescope (Hermann Oberth being the first, in Wege zur Raumschiffahrt, 1929, and also in Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen, 1923), Spitzer has been cited for his pioneering contributions to rocketry and astronomy, as well as "his vision and leadership in articulating the advantages and benefits to be realized from the Space Telescope Program."

The US$800 million Spitzer was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on a Delta II 7920H ELV rocket, Monday, 25 August 2003 at 13:35:39 UTC-5 (EDT). It follows a rather unusual orbit, heliocentric instead of geocentric, trailing and drifting away from Earth's orbit at approximately 0.1 astronomical unit per year (a so-called "earth-trailing" orbit). The primary mirror is 85 cm in diameter, f/12 and made of beryllium and was cooled to 5.5 K. The satellite contains three instruments that allowed it to perform imaging and photometry from 3 to 180 micrometers, spectroscopy from 5 to 40 micrometers, and spectrophotometry from 5 to 100 micrometers.

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