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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 described by a different color. The magenta-colored areas are dust formed of molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are also found in ash from coal, timber, and oil fires on Earth. PAHs released in multiple wavelengths.

Spitzer's View of the Tarantula Nebula
Spitzer’s View of the Tarantula Nebula

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 tells the presence of especially hot gas emitting infrared light at a wavelength of 4.5 micrometers. The stars in the picture are mostly a combination of green and blue. White hues show areas 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 produced a new view of the nebula from Spitzer data.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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