WISE Shows Its Stunning Images

The newest space based eye in the sky, the WISE telescope (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) is now producing some incredible images of some very familiar faces, but in a very different light - infrared light. The images we usually see are mostly in visible light augmented with existing ground-based infrared or ultra-violet images which tend to be of lower resolution. Hubble has infrared capability, but in lower resolution and due to the need to keep the telescope extremely cold, only a handful of targets are chosen. WISE gives us the infrared wavelengths in stunning detail, like this image of the familiar Andromeda galaxy.

Andromeda in its Infrared glory

Because WISE is seeing heat rather than light, the hotter dust lanes of the galaxy pop out of the image showing the spiral arms in all their glory. Clicking the image above will take you to a high resolution image for an even better view.

Comet Sliding Spring

Comet Sliding spring in the above image was discovered in 2007 by astronomers in Australia. The incredible thing here is that the comet appears very red in contrast to the blue stars around it, meaning that the comet is very cold. This demonstrates the sensitivity of WISE, which is able to capture the pin-point heat of stars that are hundreds, even thousands of light years away and still capture the low glow from a snowball on its way back to the Oort cloud.

The Fornax Cluster

I just love this image of the Fornax Cluster. The beautiful spiral galaxy in the bottom right corner is NGC 1365, but what may not be immediately obvious is that the blue dots in the center are not stars, but galaxies too.

There are plenty more images from WISE available on its website: http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/index.html

Happy Observing, Spacers!

Images credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
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Anonymous said...

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