Tarantula Nebula: Spitzer’s View of the Tarantula Nebula

This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Tarantula Nebula in three wavelengths of infrared light, each represented by a different color.  The magenta-colored regions are dust composed of molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are also found in ash from coal, wood and oil fires on Earth.  PAHs emit in multiple wavelengths.  The magenta color is a combination of red (corresponding to an infrared wavelength of 8 micrometers) and blue (3.6 micrometers).  The green color in this image shows the presence of particularly hot gas emitting infrared light at a wavelength of 4.5 micrometers.  The stars in the image are mostly a combination of green and blue.  White hues indicate regions that radiate in all three wavelengths.

The Tarantula Nebula was one of the first targets studied by the infrared observatory after its launch in 2003, and the telescope has revisited it many times since.  Now that Spitzer was retired on Jan. 30, 2020, scientists have generated a new view of the nebula from Spitzer data.


NASA/JPL-Caltech (2020). Accessed Feb. 2020 – https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html

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