JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases 2010

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JPL: WISE Mission Status

Post by bystander » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:14 pm

WISE Spacecraft Warming Up
NASA JPL-Caltech WISE | 10 Aug 2010
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, is warming up. Team members say the spacecraft is running out of the frozen coolant needed to keep its heat-sensitive instrument chilled.

The telescope has two coolant tanks that keep the spacecraft's normal operating temperature at 12 Kelvin (minus 438 degrees Fahrenheit). The outer, secondary tank is now depleted, causing the temperature to increase. One of WISE's infrared detectors, the longest-wavelength band most sensitive to heat, stopped producing useful data once the telescope warmed to 31 Kelvin (minus 404 degrees Fahrenheit). The primary tank still has a healthy supply of coolant, and data quality from the remaining infrared detectors remains high.

WISE completed its primary mission, a full scan of the entire sky in infrared light, on July 17, 2010. The mission has taken more than 1.5 million snapshots so far, uncovering hundreds of millions of objects, including asteroids, stars and galaxies. It has discovered more than 29,000 new asteroids to date, more than 100 near-Earth objects and 15 comets.

WISE is continuing a second survey of about one-half the sky as originally planned. It’s possible the remaining coolant will run out before that scan is finished. Scientists say the second scan will help identify new and nearby objects, as well as those that have changed in brightness. It could also help to confirm oddball objects picked up in the first scan.

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NGC 5139: Omega Centauri

Post by bystander » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:33 am

NGC 5139: Omega Centauri | 16 Aug 2010
NGC 5139: Omega Centauri
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has captured a favorite observing target of amateur astronomers -- Omega Centauri. Also known as NGC 5139, this celestial cluster of stars can be found in the constellation Centaurus and can be seen by the naked eye to observers at low northern latitudes and in the southern hemisphere. Omega Centauri contains approximately 10 million stars and is about 16,000 light-years away. This image spans an area on the sky equivalent to a grid of about 3 by 2 full Moons.

The ancient astronomer Ptolemy thought Omega Centauri was a star, and Edmond Halley identified it as a nebula in 1677. In the 1830s, John Herschel identified it as a globular star cluster orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy. A globular cluster is a spherical group of stars that are bound together by gravity.

Omega Centauri has always been the black sheep of globular clusters, since it has several characteristics that mark it as different from the typical globular cluster. For example, Omega Centauri is ten times more massive than other globular clusters. It also includes stars of a variety of ages, whereas other globular clusters contain stars from only one generation.

Recent research based on observations using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory indicates that there is a black hole at its center. This suggests that Omega Centauri may actually be a dwarf galaxy that has been stripped of its outer stars and not a globular cluster after all.

All four infrared detectors aboard WISE were used to create this mosaic image of Omega Centauri. The colors blue and cyan represent light emitted from stars at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns. The green halo surrounding the center represents light at 12 microns, emitted by warm dust.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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JPL: WISE Captures the Unicorn's Rose

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:13 am

WISE Captures the Unicorn's Rose | 25 Aug 2010
NGC 2237: Rosette Nebula

Unicorns and roses are usually the stuff of fairy tales, but a new cosmic image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) shows the Rosette nebula located within the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn.

This flower-shaped nebula, also known by the less romantic name NGC 2237, is a huge star-forming cloud of dust and gas in the Milky Way Galaxy. Estimates of the nebula’s distance vary from 4,500 to 5,000 light-years away.

At the center of the flower is a cluster of young stars called NGC 2244. The most massive stars produce huge amounts of ultraviolet radiation, and blow strong winds that erode away the nearby gas and dust, creating a large, central hole. The radiation also strips electrons from the surrounding hydrogen gas, ionizing it and creating what astronomers call an HII region.

Although the Rosette nebula is too faint to see with the naked eye, NGC 2244 is beloved by amateur astronomers because it is visible through a small telescope or good pair of binoculars. The English astronomer John Flamsteed discovered the star cluster NGC 2244 with a telescope around 1690, but the nebula itself was not identified until John Herschel (son of William Herschel, discoverer of infrared light) observed it almost 150 years later.

The streak seen at lower left is the trail of a satellite, captured as WISE snapped the multiple frames that make up this view.

This image is a four-color composite created by all four of WISE’s infrared detectors. Color is representational: blue and cyan represent infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is dominated by light from stars. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, which is mostly light from warm dust.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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Re: JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases

Post by owlice » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:11 am

Wow; that's a gorgeous pic. I think that needs to go into a Bystander's Finds poll, hmm? :-)
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JPL: M74: Spiral Galaxy Visited by Trojan War Hero

Post by bystander » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:18 pm

M74: A Spiral Galaxy is Visited by a Trojan War Hero | 08 Sept 2010
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s an asteroid tracking its way across the sky with a beautiful spiral galaxy in the background. In the center of this new mosaic image captured by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is the galaxy Messier 74, with its spiral arms seen face-on. The bright reddish object moving across the lower right part of the image is the much closer asteroid 3540 Protesilaos, seen at different points in its orbit around the Sun. WISE observed and detected this previously known asteroid a total of ten times, although only a few of those frames were used in this mosaic.

Also known as NGC 628, the Messier 74 galaxy is between 24.5 and 36 million light-years away, and has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years. It is suspected to have a black hole at its center, with a mass equal to 10,000 Suns. It is one of only a handful of known black holes with masses intermediate between the relatively smaller ones that form from collapsing stars and the supermassive black holes millions of times more massive than the sun, which are more typically found at the centers of galaxies Although it is called a Messier object, Messier 74 was actually discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1780, who then told his friend Charles Messier about it. As one of the dimmest of all Messier objects, this galaxy is a challenge for amateur astronomers to see in visible light, but the WISE cameras captured it clearly in infrared light.

The colors used in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared radiation. Blue and cyan represent light at 3.4 and 4.6 microns, respectively. These colors show both nearby stars inside the Milky Way Galaxy and the combined light of billions of stars that make up Messier 74. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 microns, respectively. These colors show light from cooler objects and material. Dust in star-forming regions in Messier 74 traces its spiral structure. The coolest object in the picture is the asteroid 3540 Protesilaos.

This asteroid was first seen in 1973 by the German astronomer Freimut Börngen, who discovered more than 500 asteroids while he was researching galaxies. At the time that WISE observed 3540 Protesilaos, it was at a distance of 772 million kilometers from Earth (480 million miles, or about 43 light-minutes). It is classified as a Jupiter Trojan minor planet, which are small rocky bodies that share the same orbit around the Sun as the planet Jupiter. Based on the infrared observations, the WISE team estimates the asteroid to be about 90 kilometers (56 miles) across and to reflect only a few percent of the light that lands on it, which makes it about as dark as coal.

By convention, Trojan asteroids are named after the heroes from the Trojan War. In this case, asteroid 3540 is named after the hero Protesilaos. According to Greek mythology, Protesilaos was the first Greek to set foot on Trojan land during the war. Unfortunately for him, there was a prophecy that the first soldier in the war to step onto land from a battle ship would die. The prophecy quickly came true and Protesilaos was killed by the Trojan hero, Hector.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE

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Black ship of Protesilaus

Post by neufer » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:46 am

bystander wrote:M74: A Spiral Galaxy is Visited by a Trojan War Hero | 08 Sept 2010
By convention, Trojan asteroids are named after the heroes from the Trojan War. In this case, asteroid 3540 is named after the hero Protesilaos. According to Greek mythology, Protesilaos was the first Greek to set foot on Trojan land during the war. Unfortunately for him, there was a prophecy that the first soldier in the war to step onto land from a battle ship would die. The prophecy quickly came true and Protesilaos was killed by the Trojan hero, Hector. This asteroid was first seen in 1973 by the German astronomer Freimut Börngen, who discovered more than 500 asteroids while he was researching galaxies. At the time that WISE observed 3540 Protesilaos, it was at a distance of 772 million kilometers from Earth (480 million miles, or about 43 light-minutes). It is classified as a Jupiter Trojan minor planet, which are small rocky bodies that share the same orbit around the Sun as the planet Jupiter. Based on the infrared observations, the WISE team estimates the asteroid to be about 90 kilometers across and to reflect only a few percent of the light that lands on it, which makes it about as dark as coal.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protesilaus wrote:
<<Protesilaus brought forty black ships with him to Troy, drawing his men from flowering Pyrasus, coastal Antron and Pteleus, "deep in grass", in addition to his native Phylace. Protesilaus was the first to land: "the first man who dared to leap ashore when the Greek fleet touched the Troad, Pausanias recalled, quoting "the author of the epic called the Cypria". An oracle had prophesied that the first Greek to walk on the land after stepping off a ship in the Trojan War would be the first to die, and so, after killing four men, he was himself slain by Hector. After Protesilaus' death, his brother, Podarces, joined the war in his place. The gods had pity on his widow, Laodamia, daughter of Acastus, and brought him up from Hades to see her. She was at first overjoyed, thinking he had returned from Troy, but after the gods returned him to the underworld, she found the loss unbearable. She had a bronze statue of her late husband constructed, and devoted herself to it. After her worried father had witnessed her behavior, he had it destroyed; however, Laodamia jumped into the fire with it.

The tomb of Protesilaus at Elaeus in the Thracian Chersonese is documented in the 5th century, when, during the Persian War, votive treasure deposited at his tomb was plundered by the satrap Artayctes, under permission from Xerxes. The Greeks later captured and executed Artayctes, returning the treasure. The tomb was mentioned again when Alexander the Great arrived at Elaeus on his campaign against the Persian Empire. He offered a sacrifice on the tomb, hoping to avoid the fate of Protesilaus when he arrived in Asia. Like Protesilaus before him, Alexander was the first to step foot on Asian soil during his campaign. Philostratus writing of this temple in the early 3rd century AD, speaks of a cult statue of Protesilaus at this temple "standing on a base which was shaped like the prow of a boat;" Gisela Richter noted coins of Elaeus from the time of Commodus that show on their reverses Protesilaus on the prow of a ship, in helmet, cuirass and short chiton.
Image
Eurytides protesilaus
.......................................................................................

If Euripides' tragedy, Protesilaos had survived, his name would be more familiar today.

http://en.butterflycorner.net/Eurytides ... 478.0.html

<<Eurytides protesilaus, also called Zebra Swallowtail or Zebraschwalbenschwanz is a high-contrast butterfly from Neotropic ecozone (South America). The first description was in 1758 by Linnaeus. With a wingspan of 8.0 – 10.0 cm the Zebra Swallowtail is a small member of the family PAPILIONIDAE. The butterfly is white with black stripes. Hind wings have very long tails.>>
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JPL: LBN 114.55+00.22: A Nebula by Any Other Name

Post by bystander » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:50 am

LBN 114.55+00.22: A Nebula by Any Other Name | 16 Sept 2010
Nebulae are enormous clouds of dust and gas occupying the space between the stars. Some have pretty names to match their good looks, such as the Rose nebula, while others have much more utilitarian names. Such is the case with LBN 114.55+00.22, seen here in an image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

Named after the astronomer who published a catalogue of nebulae in 1965, LBN stands for “Lynds Bright Nebula." The numbers 114.55+00.22 refer to nebula’s coordinates in the Milky Way Galaxy, serving as a sort of galactic home address.

Astronomers classify LBN 114.55+00.22 as an emission nebula. Unlike a reflection nebula, which reflects light from nearby stars, an emission nebula emits light. High-energy light blasted out from a nearby massive star strips away electrons from the nebula’s hydrogen gas, causing the gas to become charged. These nebulae are also called HII regions, with the “H” standing for hydrogen and the “II” indicating that the gas is ionized. As the ionized gas begins to cool from a higher-energy state to a lower-energy state, it glows. In the case of LBN 114.55+00.22, dust blocks the view of most of this nebula in visible light. But the dust of the nebula is also warmed by the light of the young stars within, and WISE’s infrared detectors see its beautiful infrared colors. Emission nebulae are usually found in the disks of spiral galaxies, and are places where new stars are forming.

In the lower left corner of the image is the bright red star IRAS 23304+6147, which is in the last phase of its life. As the hydrogen in its core burns out, the star will become a planetary nebula, ejecting material that absorbs visible light and glows in the infrared. This star’s name comes from the 1983 survey mission Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS).

Another bright object in this image is the supergiant variable star HIP 117078, seen above and to the right of the nebula. In this case, HIP stands for Hipparcos, a European Space Agency satellite that catalogued the positions of over 100,000 stars.

The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan represent light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is predominantly from stars. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 microns, respectively, which is mostly emitted by dust.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: Reflection Nebula DG 129 and Pi Scorpii

Post by bystander » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:59 pm

Reflection Nebula DG 129 and Pi Scorpii | 21 Sept 2010
In the Grip of the Scorpion’s Claw
Gripped in the claw of the constellation Scorpius, sits the reflection nebula DG 129, a cloud of gas and dust that reflects light from nearby, bright stars. This infrared view of the nebula was captured by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

Viewed in visible light, this portion of the sky seems somewhat unremarkable. But in infrared light, a lovely reflection nebula is revealed. DG 129 was first catalogued by a pair of German astronomers, named Johann Dorschner and Josef Gürtler, in 1963.

Much like gazing at Earth-bound clouds, it is fun to use your imagination when looking at images of nebulae. Some people see this nebula as an arm and hand emerging from the cosmos. If you picture the "thumb" and "forefinger" making a circle, it is as though you are seeing a celestial "okay" sign.

The bright star on the right with the greenish haze is Pi Scorpii. This star marks one of the claws of the scorpion in the constellation Scorpius. It is actually a triple-star system located some 500 light-years away. Perhaps a cross-species celestial handshake is imminent?

The colors used in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared light. The image was constructed from frames taken after WISE ran out of some of the coolant needed to chill its infrared detectors and began to warm up. The WISE detector sensitive to 22-micron light has become too warm to produce good images, but the three shorter wavelength detectors continue to crank out over 7,000 pictures of the sky every day, like the ones that make up this picture. Blue represents infrared radiation at 3.4 microns, while green represents light with a wavelength of 4.6 microns. Red represents 12-micron infrared light.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: IRAS 22298+6505: The Dark Heart of the King

Post by bystander » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:05 pm

IRAS 22298+6505: The Dark Heart of the King | 29 Sept 2010
The Dark Heart of the King
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of a hidden star-forming cloud complex of dust and gas located in the constellation of Cepheus. Cepheus, father of Andromeda, was a mythological king in the ancient Greek world. This image of dark nebulae lies near the heart of the king, as imagined by the ancient Greeks.

The dust in these nebulae blocks visible light passing through it, and the cloud and its contents are mostly hidden when viewed in visible light. What appears to the naked eye as the blackness of space is in fact a dark nebula. WISE’s infrared vision both penetrates the dust to see stars within the cloud as well as detects the glow of the dust that makes up the cloud.

Different parts of this nebula have a variety of names in astronomical catalogs. The central portion is known as IRAS 22298+6505. IRAS stands for Infrared Astronomical Satellite, a predecessor to WISE and an international satellite that mapped the sky in infrared light in the 1980s. Other portions of this cloud are called TGU H686 P2 and LDN 1213. As with IRAS, the first letters of these objects refer to astronomical catalogs. TGU is an acronym for the Tokyo Gakugei University catalog, while LDN stands for Lynds Dark Nebula catalog. The surveys that produced these catalogs were often done with fields of view that were much smaller than WISE's. What looked like distinct nebulae in those surveys are revealed as a much larger cloud complex by WISE. This complex spans about 120 light-years across and is located about 2,500 light-years away at the edge of a spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, called the Orion spur.

These types of clouds are the locations where stars are born. When a cloud of dust and gas becomes so dense that it can block out light, it is ripe for parts of the cloud to collapse into newborn stars. The whole cloud doesn’t form stars all at one time. Some parts of the cloud go first, and the winds and radiation from the biggest and hottest stars in that first generation will blow away parts of the cloud and compress other parts causing further star formation to occur. The bright blue giant star, 26 Cephei, is an example. Seen in the upper central part of this image, 26 Cephei is surrounded by a bubble of cool, red dust and dust-enshrouded younger stars that may owe their existence to their older sibling.

Color in this image is representational. Blue and cyan represent light at 3.4 and 4.6 microns, primarily emitted by stars. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, emitted by the relatively cooler dust particles in the dark clouds.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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Re: WISE: IRAS 22298+6505: The Dark Heart of the King

Post by neufer » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:35 pm

bystander wrote:
IRAS 22298+6505: The Dark Heart of the King | 29 Sept 2010
Image
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Re: JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases

Post by Beyond » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:49 am

Hey art, what does Harvy(?) have to do with the dark heart of the king? You got some splainin to do on this one :!:
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Re: JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases

Post by neufer » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:18 pm

beyond wrote:Hey art, what does Harvy(?) have to do with the dark heart of the king? You got some splainin to do on this one :!:
All dark nebulae are dark furry pooka and only the WISE can see them as they truly are.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_%28film%29 wrote:
<<Elwood P. Dowd is a middle-aged, amiable (and somewhat eccentric) individual whose best friend is an invisible 6'3.5" tall rabbit named Harvey. As described by Dowd, Harvey is a pooka, a benign but mischievous creature from Celtic mythology who is especially fond of social outcasts (like Elwood).>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%BAca wrote:
<<The Púca (Irish for goblin) is a creature of Celtic folklore, notably in Ireland, the West of Scotland, and Wales. Other names for it include Pwwka, Pooka, Puka, Phouka, Púka, Pwca in Welsh, Bucca in Cornish, Pouque in Dgèrnésiais, Puca or Puck in English, Glashtyn in Gaelg, and Gruagach.

According to legend, the púca is a deft shape shifter, capable of assuming a variety of terrifying or pleasing forms, and may appear as a horse, rabbit, goat, goblin, or dog. No matter what shape the púca takes, its fur is almost always dark. It most commonly takes the form of a sleek black horse with a flowing mane and luminescent golden eyes.

If a human is enticed onto a púca's back, it has been known to give them a wild ride, though unlike a kelpie, which will take its rider and dive into the nearest stream or lake to drown and devour him/her, the púca will do its rider no real harm. The púca has the power of human speech, and has been known to give advice and lead people away from harm. Though the púca enjoys confusing and often terrifying humans, it is considered to be benevolent.

Certain agricultural traditions surround the púca. It is a creature associated with Samhain, an Irish harvest festival, when the last of the crops is brought in. Anything remaining in the fields is considered "puka", or fairy-blasted, and hence inedible. In some locales, reapers leave a small share of the crop, the "púca's share", to placate the hungry creature. Nonetheless, November 1 is the púca's day, and the one day of the year when it can be expected to behave civilly. At the beginning of November, the púca was known—in some locales—to either defecate or to spit on the wild fruits rendering them inedible and unsafe from hence on.

In some regions, the púca is spoken of with considerably more respect than fear; if treated with due deference, it may actually be beneficial to those who encounter it. The púca is a creature of the mountains and hills, and in those regions there are stories of it appearing on November Day and providing prophecies and warnings to those who consult it.>>
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Re: JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases

Post by Beyond » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:52 pm

Hey art, it looks like Elwood had a "rare" pooka. Harvey was white.
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Re: JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases

Post by neufer » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:05 pm

beyond wrote:
Hey art, it looks like Elwood had a "rare" pooka. Harvey was white.
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JPL: WISE Mission Extended (NEOWISE)

Post by bystander » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:14 pm

Good News: WISE Mission Extended (NEOWISE)

NASA's WISE Mission Warms Up But Keeps Chugging Along
NASA JPL | PR 2010-320 | 04 Oct 2010
After completing its primary mission to map the infrared sky, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has reached the expected end of its onboard supply of frozen coolant. Although WISE has 'warmed up,' NASA has decided the mission will still continue. WISE will now focus on our nearest neighbors -- the asteroids and comets traveling together with our solar system's planets around the sun.

"Two of our four infrared detectors still work even at warmer temperatures, so we can use those bands to continue our hunt for asteroids and comets," said Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Mainzer is the principal investigator of the new phase of the mission, now known as the NEOWISE Post-Cryogenic Mission. It takes its name from the acronym for a near-Earth object, NEO, and WISE. A cryogen is a coolant used to make the detectors more sensitive. In WISE's case, the cryogen was frozen hydrogen.
...
The NEOWISE Post-Cryogenic Mission is designed to complete the survey of the solar system and finish the second survey of the rest of the sky at its new warmer temperature of about minus 334 degrees Fahrenheit using its two shortest-wavelength detectors. The survey extension will last one to four months, depending on early results.

NEOWISE also will keep on observing other targets, such as the closest brown dwarfs to the sun. In addition, data from the second sky scan will help identify objects that have moved in the sky since they were first detected by WISE. This allows astronomers to pick out the brown dwarfs closest to our sun. The closer the object is, the more it will appear to move from our point of view.

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WISE: NGC 253: Sculptor Galaxy

Post by bystander » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:09 pm

The Many Infrared 'Personalities' of the Sculptor Galaxy | 13 Oct 2010
The Sculptor galaxy is shown in different infrared hues, in this new mosaic from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The main picture is a composite of infrared light captured with all four of the space telescope's infrared detectors.

The red image at bottom right shows the galaxy's active side. Infant stars are heating up their dusty cocoons, particularly in the galaxy's core, making the Sculptor galaxy burst with infrared light. This light -- color-coded red in this view -- was captured using WISE's longest-wavelength, 22-micron detector. The dusty burst of stars is so intense in the core that it generates diffraction spikes. Diffraction spikes are telescope artifacts normally seen only around very bright stars.

The green image at center right reveals the galaxy's emerging young stars, concentrated in the core and spiral arms. Ultraviolet light from these hot stars is being absorbed by tiny dust or soot particles left over from their formation, making the particles glow with infrared light that has been color-coded green in this view. WISE can see this light with a detector designed to capture wavelengths of 12 microns.

The blue image at top right was taken with the two shortest-wavelength detectors on WISE (3.4 and 4.6 microns). It shows stars of all ages, which can be found not just in the core and spiral arms but throughout the galaxy.

The Sculptor galaxy, or NGC 253, was discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel, a sister and collaborator of the discoverer of infrared light, Sir William Herschel. It was named after the constellation in which it is found, and is part of a cluster of galaxies known as the Sculptor group. The Sculptor galaxy can be seen by observers in the southern hemisphere with a pair of good binoculars.

NGC 253 is an active galaxy, which means that a significant fraction of its energy output does not come from normal populations of stars within the galaxy. The extraordinarily high amount of star formation occurring in the nucleus of this galaxy has led astronomers to classify it as a "starburst" galaxy. At a distance of approximately 10.5 million light-years away, NGC 253 is the closest starburst galaxy to our Milky Way Galaxy. However, the starburst alone cannot explain all the activity observed in the nucleus. One strong possibility is that a giant black hole lurks at the heart of it all, similar to the one that lies at the center of the Milky Way.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: IC 5416: Cocoon Nebula

Post by bystander » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:22 am

IC 5416: Cocoon Nebula | 20 Oct 2010
Cosmic Cocoon
The aptly named Cocoon nebula is featured in this image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. This cloud of dust and gas, cataloged as IC 5416 and located in the constellation Cygnus, is wrapped in a dark cloud of dust called Barnard 168. Within this cocoon of dust and gas, new stars are forming and beginning to emerge into the wild.

In the heart of the nebula, which looks surprisingly like a Valentine’s heart in WISE's view, massive new stars are emerging. The intense radiation from these stars heats up the cloud. The highest-energy light from the stars rips electrons from hydrogen atoms, which then recombine with the atoms and emit visible light.

Pictures of the Cocoon nebula taken with visible light see only the inner most part of this cloud glowing red and surrounded by an eerie darkness. That darkness appears as an absence of stars, but it is actually a dense cloud of dust obscuring stars behind it. This dense cloud is being heated by the young stars within. The dust absorbs the high-energy radiation from the newborn stars and then glows in infrared light, captured by WISE in this view. The dusty cocoon extends over 45 light-years across, which is more than three times larger than the inner, glowing portion of the nebula.

The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan represent light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is predominantly from stars. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 microns, respectively, which is mostly emitted by dust.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: IRAS 12116-6001: Dark Reflections

Post by bystander » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:04 pm

IRAS 12116-6001: Dark Reflections in the Southern Cross | 27 Oct 2010
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this colorful image of the reflection nebula IRAS 12116-6001. This cloud of interstellar dust cannot be seen directly in visible light, but WISE’s detectors observed the nebula at infrared wavelengths.

In images of reflection nebulae taken with visible light, clouds of dust reflect the light of nearby stars. The dust is warmed to relatively cool temperatures by the starlight and glows in infrared light, which WISE can detect. Reflection nebulae are of interest to astronomers because they are often the sites of new star formation.

The bright blue star on the right side of the image is the variable star Epsilon Crucis. In the Bayer system of stellar nomenclature, stars are given names based on their relative brightness within a constellation. The Greek alphabet is used to designate the star’s apparent brightness compared to other stars in the same constellation. “Alpha” is the brightest star in the constellation, “beta” the second brightest, and so on. In this case, “epsilon” is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, so Epsilon Crucis is the fifth brightest star in the constellation Crux.

Crux is a well-known constellation that can be easily seen by observers in the Southern Hemisphere and from low northern latitudes. Also known as the Southern Cross, Crux is featured in many country’s flags, including Australia, Brazil and New Zealand (although New Zealand’s flag does not include Epsilon Crucis).
The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. The blue color of Epsilon Crucis represents light emitted at 3.4 and 4.6 microns. The green-colored star seen beside Epsilon Crucis is emitting light at 12 microns. This star is IRAS 12194-6007, a carbon star that is near the end of its lifecycle. Since the infrared wavelengths emitted by this star are longer than those from Epsilon Crucis, it is cooler. The green and red colors seen in the reflection nebula represent 12- and 22-micron light coming from the nebula’s dust grains warmed by nearby stars.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: Circinus Molecular Cloud

Post by bystander » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:18 pm

Star Formation in the Circinus Molecular Cloud Complex | 02 Nov 2010
The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has uncovered a striking population of young stellar objects in a complex of dense, dark clouds in the southern constellation of Circinus. This mosaic from WISE covers an area on the sky so large that it could contain a grid of 11 by 7 full Moons. The cloud itself is some 2,280 light-years away and spans more than 180 light-years across.

When an interstellar cloud becomes dense and cool enough molecules can form in it, so astronomers call these molecular clouds. Molecular clouds are where stars first form, and astronomers study them hoping to learn about the earliest stages in the lives of stars. These clouds are so dense that the dust within blocks visible wavelengths of light. Telescopes that see visible light only detect ghostly dark patches in the sky, called dark nebulae. The infrared vision of WISE was able to pierce through the cloud and see the light of the dust itself and newly forming stars within.

The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan represent light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is predominantly from stars. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 microns, respectively, which is mostly emitted by dust.

In the western part of the cloud (right of the image center) there is a prominent cluster of red-colored sources. This is light coming from large amounts of warm, concentrated dust. These are what astronomers call young stellar objects, stars so new that they have yet to begin nuclear fusion in their cores and are enveloped by cocoons of dust. These young stars also power large scale outflows of gas that are detected by radio telescopes. As these young stars develop, they will emerge from their cocoons and begin to light up their surroundings, making the Circinus Cloud shine in visible light.

Also in this image: the brightest star in the upper-right is IRAS 14484-6152, a giant star rich in carbon. The red object to the east (Left) of the brightest nebulosity is an O-type star. It derives its red color from the surrounding dust, which is being heated by this massive star.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: First Brown Dwarf

Post by bystander » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:58 pm

Collecting Brown Dwarfs in the Night Sky | 09 Nov 2010
That green dot in the middle of this image might look like an emerald amidst glittering diamonds, but it is actually a dim star belonging to a class termed brown dwarfs. This particular object, named "WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9" after its location in the sky, is the first ultra-cool brown dwarf discovered by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. WISE is scanning the skies in infrared light, picking up the signatures of all sort of cosmic gems, including brown dwarfs.

The mission's infrared vision makes it particularly good at picking brown dwarfs out of a starry sky. This view shows three of WISE’s four infrared channels, color-coded blue, green and red, with blue showing the shortest wavelengths of infrared light and red, the longest. The methane in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs absorbs this color-coded blue light, and the objects themselves are too faint to give off a lot of the red light. That leaves green. As can be seen in this picture, the little green dot of a brown dwarf stands out against the sparkly, hotter blue stars.

The brown dwarf is located 18 to 30 light-years away in the northern constellation of Camelopardalis, or the giraffe; in fact, the brown dwarf is positioned right on the neck of the giraffe, adorning it like an emerald necklace. This is one of the coolest brown dwarfs known, with a temperature of roughly 600 Kelvin, or 620 degrees Fahrenheit.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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WISE: Planetary Nebula NGC 1514

Post by bystander » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:09 am

Planetary Nebula NGC 1514 | 17 Nov 2010
A Dying Star in a Different Light
This image composite shows two views of a puffy, dying star, or planetary nebula, known as NGC 1514. The view on the left is from a ground-based, visible-light telescope; the view on the right shows the object in infrared light, as seen by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

The object is actually a pair of stars -- one star is a dying giant somewhat heavier and hotter than our sun, and the other was an even larger star that has now contracted into a dense body called a white dwarf. As the giant star ages, it sheds some its outer layers of material to form a large bubble around the two stars. Jets of material from the white dwarf are thought to have smashed into this bubble wall. The areas where the jets hit the cavity walls appear as orange rings in the WISE image. This is because dust in the rings is being heated and glows with infrared light that WISE detects.

The green cloud seen in the WISE view is an inner shell of previously shed material. In the visible image, this shell is seen in bright, light blues. An outer shell can also be seen in the visible image in more translucent shades of blue. This outer shell is too faint to be seen by WISE.

NGC 1514 is located 800 light-years away, in the constellation Taurus.

In the WISE image, infrared light with a wavelength of 3.4 microns is blue; 4.6-micron light is cyan; 12-micron light is green; and 22-micron light is red.

The visible-light image is from the Digitized Sky Survey, based at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
WISE Image Reveals Strange Specimen in Starry Sea
NASA JPL | 2010-386 | 17 Nov 2010
A new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer shows what looks like a glowing jellyfish floating at the bottom of a dark, speckled sea. In reality, this critter belongs to the cosmos -- it's a dying star surrounded by fluorescing gas and two very unusual rings.

"I am reminded of the jellyfish exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium -- beautiful things floating in water, except this one is in space," said Edward (Ned) Wright, the principal investigator of the WISE mission at UCLA, and a co-author of a paper on the findings, reported in the Astronomical Journal.

The object, known as NGC 1514 and sometimes the "Crystal Ball" nebula, belongs to a class of objects called planetary nebulae, which form when dying stars toss off their outer layers of material. Ultraviolet light from a central star, or in this case a pair of stars, causes the gas to fluoresce with colorful light. The result is often beautiful -- these objects have been referred to as the butterflies of space.

NGC 1514 was discovered in 1790 by Sir William Herschel, who noted that its "shining fluid" meant that it could not be a faint cluster of stars, as originally suspected. Herschel had previously coined the term planetary nebulae to describe similar objects with circular, planet-like shapes.

Planetary nebulae with asymmetrical wings of nebulosity are common. But nothing like the newfound rings around NGC 1514 had been seen before. Astronomers say the rings are made of dust ejected by the dying pair of stars at the center of NGC 1514. This burst of dust collided with the walls of a cavity that was already cleared out by stellar winds, forming the rings.
...
WISE was able to spot the rings for the first time because their dust is being heated and glows with the infrared light that WISE can detect. In visible-light images, the rings are hidden from view, overwhelmed by the brightly fluorescing clouds of gas.
...
Infrared light has been color-coded in the new WISE picture, such that blue represents light with a wavelength of 3.4 microns; turquoise is 4.6-micron light; green is 12-micron light; and red is 22-micron light. The dust rings stand out in orange. The greenish glow at the center is an inner shell of material, blown out more recently than an outer shell that is too faint to be seen in WISE's infrared view. The white dot in the middle is the central pair of stars, which are too close together for WISE to see separately.
The Discovery of Infrared Rings in the Planetary Nebula NGC 1514 During the WISE All-sky Survey - ME Ressler et al http://asterisk.apod.com/vie ... =8&t=22044
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WISE Catches a Runaway Star in Flames

Post by bystander » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:15 pm

IC 405: WISE Catches a Runaway Star in Flames | 23 Nov 2010
At a time of year when many people travel long distances to be with their families for the holidays, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this view of a runaway star racing away from its original home. Seen here surrounded by a glowing cloud of gas and dust, the star AE Aurigae appears to be on fire. Appropriately, the cloud is called the Flaming Star Nebula.

A runaway star is one that is hurled into high-speed motion through a supernovae explosion or collision with nearby stars. Like an angry teenager who storms out of the house after a family fight, runaway stars are ejected from their birthplace and race off to other parts of the Galaxy.

The runaway star AE Aurigae was likely born in Trapezium Cluster, which is located in the constellation Orion. It formed a binary star system with the star Mu Columbae. Approximately 2.5 million years ago, these two stars collided with another binary star system in the Trapezium Cluster. This collision sent both AE Aurigae and Mu Columbae hurtling through space in opposite directions at a speed of 100 kilometers per second. Today, AE Aurigae can be seen in the constellation Auriga, while its former binary star Mu Columbae is located in the constellation Columba.

The wind from AE Aurigae blows away electrons from the gas surrounding it. This ionized gas begins to emit light, creating what is known as an emission nebula. The star also heats up nearby dust, causing it to glow in infrared wavelengths. As seen in visible light, this dust reflects the light of nearby stars, so it is called a reflection nebula.

The colors seen in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Hot stars scattered throughout the image show up as blue and cyan. Blue represents light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 microns, while cyan represents 4.6 microns. The gas of the emission nebula appears green, representing 12-micron wavelengths. The dust of the reflection nebula appears primarily red, representing 22-micron light.

One interesting aspect of this image is that the edges of the reflection nebula appear lavender. This is because at its edges the nebula is both emitting light at longer, 22-micron wavelengths and scattering shorter, 3.4-micron wavelength light. Since WISE represents 22-micron light as red and 3.4-micron light as blue, the combination of the two appears in this image as lavender.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
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WISE: A Flame in Orion’s Belt

Post by bystander » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:09 pm

A Flame in Orion’s Belt | 02 Dec 2010
This mosaic image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, features three nebulae that are part of the giant Orion Molecular Cloud. The image covers an area of the sky about three times as high and wide as the full moon (1.5 by 1.8 degrees). Included in this view are the Flame nebula, the Horsehead nebula and NGC 2023.

Despite its name, there is no fire roaring in the Flame nebula. What makes this nebula shine is the bright blue star seen to the right of the central cloud. This star, Alnitak, is the easternmost star in Orion’s belt. Wind and radiation from Alnitak blasts away electrons from the gas in the Flame nebula, causing it to become ionized and glow in visible light. The infrared glow seen by WISE is from dust warmed by Alnitak’s radiation. Also known as NGC 2024 and Orion B, this nebula is classified as a molecular cloud.

The famous Horsehead nebula appears in this image as a faint bump on the lower right side of the vertical dust ridge. In visible light, this nebula is easily recognizable as a dramatic silhouette in the shape of a horse’s head. It is classified as a dark nebula because the dense cloud blocks out the visible light of the glowing gas behind it. WISE’s infrared detectors can peer into the cloud to see the glow of the dust itself.

A third nebula, called NGC 2023, can be seen as a bright circle in the lower half of the image. NGC 2023 is classified as a reflection nebula, meaning that the dust is reflecting the visible light of nearby stars. But here WISE sees the infrared glow of the warmed dust itself.

Color in this image represents specific infrared wavelengths. Blue represents light emitted at 3.4-micron wavelengths, mainly from hot stars. Relatively cooler objects, such as the dust of the nebulae, appear green and red. Green represents 4.6-micron light and red represents 12-micron light.
This image was made from data collected after WISE began to run out of its supply of solid hydrogen cryogen in August 2010. Cryogen is a coolant used to make infrared detectors more sensitive. WISE mapped the entire sky by July using four infrared detectors, but during the period from August to October, 2010, while the cryogen was depleting, WISE had only three detectors operational, and the 12-micron detector was less sensitive. This turned out to be a good thing in the case of this image, because the less-sensitive detector reduced the glare of the Flame portion of the nebula enough to bring out details of the rest of the nebula.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
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Re: JPL: WISE Mission Image Releases

Post by owlice » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:39 pm

Oh, that's very nice; thanks for posting it!!
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WISE: IC 443: The Jellyfish Nebula

Post by bystander » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:03 am

IC 443: The Jellyfish Nebula | 09 Dec 2010
An Explosion of Infrared Color
This oddly colorful nebula is the supernova remnant IC 443 as seen by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. Also known as the Jellyfish nebula, IC 443 is particularly interesting because it provides a look into how stellar explosions interact with their environment. IC 443 can be found near the star Eta Geminorum, which lies near Castor, one of the twins in the constellation Gemini.

Just like human beings, stars have a life cycle -- they are born, mature and eventually die. The manner in which stars die depends on their mass. Stars with mass similar to the Sun typically become planetary nebulae at the end of their lives, whereas stars with many times the Sun’s mass explode as supernovae. IC 443 is the remains of a star that went supernova somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. The blast from the supernova sent out shock waves that traveled through space, sweeping up and heating the surrounding gas and dust in the interstellar medium, and creating the supernova remnant seen in this image.

What is unusual about the IC 443 is that its shell-like form has two halves that have different radii, structures and emissions. The larger northeastern shell, seen here as the violet-colored semi-circle on the top left of the supernova remnant, is composed of sheet-like filaments that are emitting light from iron, neon, silicon and oxygen gas atoms and dust particles heated by the blast from the supernova. The smaller southern shell, seen here in a bright cyan color on the bottom half of the image, is constructed of denser clumps and knots primarily emitting light from hydrogen gas and heated dust. These clumps are part of a molecular cloud which can be seen in this image as the greenish cloud cutting across IC 443 from the northwest to southeast. The color differences seen in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared emission.

The differences in color are also the result of differences in the energies of the shock waves hitting the interstellar medium. The northeastern shell was probably created by a fast shock wave (100 kilometers per second or 223,700 miles per hour), whereas the southern shell was probably created by a slow shock wave (30 kilometers per second or 67,100 miles per hour).

All WISE featured images use color to represent specific infrared wavelengths. Blue represents 3.4-micron light, cyan represents 4.6-micron light, green represents 12-micron light and red represents 22-micron light. In this image, we see a mixing of blue and cyan in the southern ridge that is not often seen in other WISE images. The northeastern shell appears violet, indicating a mixture of longer infrared wavelengths from cooler dust (red) and shorter infrared wavelengths from luminescent gas (blue).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
APOD: The Elusive Jellyfish Nebula (2010 May 15)
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100515.html
http://asterisk.apod.com/vie ... =9&t=19406
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