AIR SPACE

WISE Photographs the Universe

NASA's WISE telescope, which will scan the whole sky in infrared light, documenting the heavens, has taken some stunning photographs of the stars.

wise Telescope Flaming Star Nebula

An image of the Flaming Star Nebula, taken in infrared light by NASA's WISE space telescope.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

wise running chicken nebula

NASA's WISE telescope took this infrared image of a star-forming cloud called the Lambda Centauri Nebula, also known as the Running Chicken Nebula. The nebula is about 5,800 light-years from Earth, and it's home to a new cluster of stars born nearly 8 million years ago.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

wise Flame Three Nebulas

This mosaic image taken by NASA’s WISE space telescope features three nebulas--the Flame Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula and NGC 2023--that are part of the giant Orion Molecular Cloud.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

wise telescope Jellyfish Nebula

This oddly colorful nebula is the supernova remnant IC 443, also known as the Jellyfish Nebula. NASA's WISE space telescope captured this image, in infrared light.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

The Andromeda Galaxy

The immense Andromeda galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or simply M31, is captured in full in this new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. WISE will take an image every 11 seconds -- after six months, the spacecraft will have taken nearly 1,500,000 pictures scanning the whole sky in infrared light

The mosaic covers an area equivalent to more than 100 full moons, or five degrees across the sky. WISE used all four of its infrared detectors to capture this picture (3.4- and 4.6-micron light is colored blue; 12-micron light is green; and 22-micron light is red). Blue highlights mature stars, while yellow and red show dust heated by newborn, massive stars.

Gene Blevins/LA Daily News

A Spiral Arm of the Milky Way

A nebula containing young, massive stars is located 20,000 light-years away in the Carina spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. It contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars, called NGC3603 The cluster contains some of the most massive stars known. Winds and radiation from the stars are evaporating and dispersing the cloud material from which they formed, warming the cold dust and gas surrounding the central nebula. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Comet Siding Spring

Comet Siding Spring appears to streak across the sky like a superhero in this new infrared image. The comet, also known as C/2007 Q3, was discovered in 2007 by observers in Australia. The snowball-like mass of ice and dust spent billions of years orbiting in the deep freeze of the Oort Cloud, a spherical cloud of comets surrounding our solar system. At some point, it got knocked out of this orbit and onto a course that brings it closer to the Sun. On October 7, 2009, it passed as close as 1.2 astronomical units from Earth.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Older Andromeda Stars

This image highlights the Andromeda galaxy's older stellar population in blue. It was taken by the shortest-wavelength camera on WISE, which detects infrared light of 3.4 microns. A pronounced warp in the disk of the galaxy, the aftermath of a collision with another galaxy, can be clearly seen in the spiral arm to the upper left side of the galaxy.

Gene Blevins/LA Daily News

The Fornax Cluster

WISE's large field of view and multi-wavelength infrared sight allowed it to form this complete view of the Fornax Cluster, containing dozens of bright galaxies and hundreds of smaller ones. Old stars show up at the shorter infrared wavelengths, color coded blue. Dust heated by new generations of stars lights up at longer infrared wavelengths, colored red here.

The center of the cluster is dominated by the galaxy known as NGC 1399, a large spheroidal galaxy whose light is almost exclusively from old stars and thus appears blue. The most spectacular member of Fornax is the galaxy known as NGC 1365, a giant barred spiral galaxy, located in the lower right of the mosaic. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

First Comet Spied

The red smudge at the center of this picture is the first comet discovered by WISE. The comet, officially named "P/2010 B2 (WISE)," but known simply as WISE, is a dusty mass of ice more than 1.2 miles in diameter. The comet parades around the Sun every 4.7 years. Sunlight causes dust and gas to erode off the comet's surface into an outer shell, or coma, and a tail (while Comet WISE's coma and tail are hard to see in the picture, they make the red dot look fuzzy).

NASA/JP-Caltech/UCLA

Dust on Andromeda's Arms

Dust speckles the Andromeda galaxy's spiral arms, as captured by the longest-wavelength infrared detectors on WISE (12-micron light has been color coded orange, and 22-micron light, red). The hot dust, which is being heated by newborn stars, traces the spidery arms all the way to the center of the galaxy. Telltale signs of young stars can also be seen in the centers of Andromeda's smaller companion galaxies, M32 and M110. Andromeda, also called M31, is 2.5 million light-years away, and is the nearest large neighbor to our Milky Way galaxy.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

First Light

This infrared snapshot of a region in the constellation Carina near the Milky Way was taken shortly after WISE ejected its cover. The "first-light" picture shows thousands of stars and covers an area three times the size of the Moon. WISE will take more than a million similar pictures covering the whole sky. The image was captured as the spacecraft stared in a fixed direction, in order to help calibrate its pointing system.

NASA/JP-Caltech/UCLA

First Near Earth Object

The red dot near the center of this image is the first near-Earth asteroid discovered by WISE. Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that come close to Earth's path around the sun. This particular asteroid, called 2010 AB78, is roughly 0.6 miles in diameter, and is about 98 million miles away from Earth. Its elliptical-shaped orbit takes it out beyond Mars and back in about as close to the sun as Earth. 

NASA/JP-Caltech/UCLA

Artist Conception

The WISE telescope will take an image every 11 seconds.  After six months, the spacecraft will have taken nearly 1,500,000 pictures covering the entire sky.  The WISE mission will scan the whole sky in infrared light, and is blasted off on Dec. 9. This artist's conception shows WISE at work, mapping the sky.

Artist Conception

Artist rendering of the WISE spacecraft, superimposed over an image of the Milky Way galaxy that was constructed from data collected by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) and the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE).

Protecting the Craft

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer has been wrapped in the outer nose cone, or "fairing," that will protect it during its scheduled Dec. 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

NASA

Protecting the Craft

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer has been wrapped in the outer nose cone, or "fairing," that will protect it during its scheduled Dec. 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Preparing for Launch

>NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, is seen here being hoisted to the top of its United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

WISE Telescope

The WISE telescope is an all aluminum optical system that will produce images of the sky with 2.75 arcsec resolution in four infrared spectral bands.

WISE Telescope Barrel

View looking down the barrel of the WISE telescope.

WISE Imager Optics

The WISE back-end imager optics. This picture shows the imager optics which are mounted at the back of the optical system.

WISE Detectors

This picture shows one of the four WISE detectors: the WISE Mercury Cadmium Telluride Focal Plane Mount Assembly.

WISE Photographs the Universe

NASA's WISE telescope, which will scan the whole sky in infrared light, documenting the heavens, has taken some stunning photographs of the stars.

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