Dusty Reflections in the Scorpions Claws

Wise_wise2011-030_500

WISE_WISE2011-030 November 3rd, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Between the claws of the dreaded scorpion imagined by the ancient Greeks lies this giant dust cloud, imaged by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The constellation of Scorpius is prominent in the summer night sky in North America. In visible light, this cloud, or nebula, appears dark with a ghostly blue shine about it. These types of nebulae are called reflection, because they are reflecting the light of nearby stars. The dust within the cloud reflects mostly blue light.

However, WISE sees infrared light invisible to the eye. In infrared light, we can see the dust itself glowing rather than simply reflecting light. The green and red colors in this image show dust at different temperatures, with the green dust being warmer than the red dust. The dust is warmed by the light of nearby stars. This interstellar dust contains the heavy elements that planets are made of, and plays a major role in the creation of new stars.

The nebula, known as IC 4601, is part of a larger complex of clouds where new stars are being born. Some of the red stars in this image may in fact be baby stars wrapped in blankets of dust. Perhaps the dreaded scorpion can be thought of as rocking the baby stars to sleep.

This image was made from observations by all four infrared detectors aboard WISE. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is primarily from stars, the hottest objects pictured. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, which is primarily from warm dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-030

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
IC 4601
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Appearance » Reflection

Distance

Universescale1
420 light years
Wise_wise2011-030_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 16h 20m 43.9s
DEC = -20° 7’ 35.1”
Orientation
North is 3.3° CW
Field of View
2.0 x 2.0 degrees
Constellation
Scorpius

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-030_1280
×
ID
WISE2011-030
Subject Category
B.4.2.2  
Subject Name
IC 4601
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
420
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-030
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
245.1827142, -20.1264044
Reference Dimension
5200.0, 5200.0
Reference Pixel
2601.0, 2601.0
Scale
-0.000381819, 0.00038181933
Rotation
-3.26
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2011-030
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
420 light years