This graph, or spectrum, from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope tells astronomers that some of the most basic ingredients of DNA and protein are concentrated in a dusty planet-forming disk circling a young sun-like star called IRS 46. These data also indicate that the ingredients -- molecular gases called acetylene and hydrogen cyanide -- are located in the star's terrestrial planet zone, the region where scientists believe Earth-like planets would be most likely to form.
December 20th, 2005
For the universe's biggest stars, even death is a show. Massive stars typically end their lives in explosive cataclysms, or supernovae, flinging abundant amounts of hot gas and radiation into outer space. Remnants of this shy star's supernova would have gone completely unnoticed if the super-sensitive eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope hadn't accidentally stumbled upon it.
May 10th, 2006
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, NASA's Great Observatories -- the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory -- have produced a matched trio of images of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy.
November 10th, 2009
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected a faint, warm object inside the apparently starless core of a small, dense molecular cloud. If, as astronomers suspect, there is a young star deep inside the dusty core, it would have a structure similar to this illustration.
November 9th, 2004
The Seven Sisters, also known as the Pleiades, seem to float on a bed of feathers in a new infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Clouds of dust sweep around the stars, swaddling them in a cushiony veil.
April 12th, 2007
This graph of data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows that an extraordinarily low-mass brown dwarf, or "failed star," is circled by a disk of planet-building dust. The brown dwarf, called OTS 44, is only 15 times the mass of Jupiter, making it the smallest known brown dwarf to host a planet-forming disk.
July 2nd, 2004
How is it that two glowing globs of gas that look completely different can actually be basically the same thing? In the case of planetary nebulae like IC 4406 and NGC 2392, all it may take is a simple shift of perspective, provided here in infrared images taken by NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope.
July 2nd, 2012
Dense envelopes of gas and dust surround the fledging stars known as protostars, making their detection difficult until now. The discovery gives scientists a window into the earliest and least understood phases of star formation.
March 19th, 2013
Using sensitive instruments onboard NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have seen the first building blocks of planets, and possibly future life, deep within dusty discs around young stars. The image shows spectra, obtained by Spitzer's infrared spectrograph, of two stars that are so young they are still embedded in protoplanetary discs.
May 27th, 2004
The "Cores to Disks" Spitzer Legacy team is using the two infrared cameras on NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to search dense regions of interstellar molecular clouds (known as "cores") for evidence of star formation. Part of the study targeted a group of objects with no known stars to study the properties of such regions before any stars have formed. The first of these "starless cores" to be examined held a surprise: a source of infrared light appeared where none was expected.
November 9th, 2004
A star's spectacular death in the constellation Taurus was observed on Earth as the supernova of 1054 A.D. Now, almost a thousand years later, a superdense neutron star left behind by the stellar death is spewing out a blizzard of extremely high-energy particles into the expanding debris field known as the Crab Nebula. This composite image uses data from three of NASA's Great Observatories.
October 25th, 2006
The nearby galaxy NGC 2976, located approximately 10 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major near the Big Dipper, was captured by the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey (SINGS) Legacy Project using the telescope's Infrared Array Camera
September 15th, 2005
This is an artist's concept of a hypothetical 10-million-year-old star system. The bright blur at the center is a star much like our sun. The other orb in the image is a gas-giant planet like Jupiter. Wisps of white throughout the image represent traces of gas.
January 8th, 2007
The glowing Trifid Nebula is revealed with near- and mid-infrared views from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The Trifid Nebula is a giant star-forming cloud of gas and dust located 5,400 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.
January 12th, 2005
Astronomers have discovered nearly 300 galaxy clusters and groups, including almost 100 located 8 to 10 billion light-years away, using the space-based Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Ariz. The new sample represents a six-fold increase in the number of known galaxy clusters and groups at such extreme distances, and will allow astronomers to systematically study massive galaxies two-thirds of the way back to the Big Bang.
June 5th, 2006
This image is a blend of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer's M33 image and another taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. M33, one of our closest galactic neighbors, is about 2.9 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum, part of what's known as our Local Group of galaxies.
April 28th, 2009
This infrared image taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a globular cluster previously hidden in the dusty plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Globular clusters are compact bundles of old stars that date back to the birth of our galaxy, 13 or so billion years ago. Astronomers use these galactic "fossils" as tools for studying the age and formation of the Milky Way.
October 12th, 2004
This infrared picture shows a relatively calm galaxy called NGC 4145. This galaxy has already made most of its stars and has little star-forming activity. It is located 68 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. Blue shows starlight and dust.
August 5th, 2009
This painterly portrait of a star-forming cloud, called NGC 346, is a combination of multiwavelength light from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared), the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope (visible), and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton space telescope (X-ray).
October 8th, 2008
Two rambunctious young stars are destroying their natal dust cloud with powerful jets of radiation, as revealed in an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The stars are located approximately 600 light-years away in a cosmic cloud called BHR 71.
April 17th, 2007
A growing black hole, called a quasar, can be seen at the center of a faraway galaxy in this artist's concept. Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes discovered swarms of similar quasars hiding in dusty galaxies in the distant universe.
October 25th, 2007
This image taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows in unprecedented detail the galaxy Centaurus A's last big meal: a spiral galaxy seemingly twisted into a parallelogram-shaped structure of dust. Spitzer's ability to see dust and also see through it allowed the telescope to peer into the center of Centaurus A and capture this galactic remnant as never before.
June 1st, 2004
This artist's concept shows the planet catalogued as 2003UB313 at the lonely outer fringes of our solar system. The new planet, which is yet to be formally named, is at least as big as Pluto and about three times farther away from the Sun than Pluto.
August 7th, 2005
NGC 6946, or "The Fireworks Galaxy", is one of about a dozen nearby neighbors to the Milky Way. It is located approximately 10 million light-years away in the Cepheus constellation. This image was captured as part of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey.
June 23rd, 2008
The cluster in this image, known as J0717, is the grouping of bright objects near the center of the field. Upon close examination, examples of the very distant background galaxies can be seen as distorted arcs scattered through the cluster.
March 27th, 2014
This plot tells astronomers that a pulsar, the remnant of a stellar explosion, is surrounded by a disk of its own ashes. The disk, revealed by the two data points at the far right from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is the first ever found around a pulsar. Astronomers believe planets might rise up out of these stellar ashes.
April 5th, 2006